Thursday, November 13, 2008

Baltimore Museum of Art

The Baltimore Museum of Art has organized the first comprehensive survey in the United States of Franz West, an internationally acclaimed Austrian artist whose singular vision has resulted in one of the most remarkable bodies of work produced since the 1960s. The exhibition includes 117 objects that reflect West's extraordinary innovations in sculpture, design, and on paper—ranging from early interactive works from the 1970s to an enormous brightly colored object created for this exhibition. 

Known for his intriguing sculptures, provocative collages, and giant outdoor installations, Franz West (b. 1947) has played a critical role in redefining the possibilities of sculpture as a social and environmental experience for the past three decades. His manipulation of found materials, papier-mâché, and furniture is unlike any other in appearance and application. Though fundamentally sculptural in its construction, his work veers towards the biomorphic and prosthetic, mines the intellectualism of Freud and Wittgenstein, and possesses a sly wit and awkward beauty that speaks with equal fluency to the aesthetics of painterly abstraction and trash art.

The exhibition is organized as a series of mini-installations that invite visitors to encounter and occasionally touch a range of objects beginning with a 25-foot tall aluminum sculpture titled The Ego and the Id (2008) making its debut in Baltimore. Subsequent rooms include cabinets and chairs that infuse the art environment with the culture of bars, cafés, and domestic life (1990s); a large room with papier-mâché groupings and free-standing sculptures; a space with beautiful but precarious-looking works (1980-1990s); and human-scaled plaster sculptures called Adaptives (1970s) tinged by the violet hue of West's floor lamps. Throughout the exhibition, groupings of the artist's collages show the often cheeky influence of comic books, pop culture, and advertising.

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