Description: Franz West (b. 1947) Untitled (Blue) papier mâché, gauze, acyrlic, plaster, iron and metal paint can lid; wood, gauze and plaster base 30 x 24 x 26 in. (76.2 x 61 x 66 cm.) base: 28½ x 23¼ x 23¼ in. (72.4 x 59.1 x 59.1 cm.) Executed in 2003.
Artist or Maker: Franz West (b. 1947)
Provenance: Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne
Notes: Born in Vienna in 1947, Franz West, an artistic autodidact, began making sculptures in the early 1970s. These first works, known as Paßbstücke, or "Adaptives," exemplify West's earliest critique of traditional conceptions of art. These small, amorphous papier-machi forms eschew classical sculptural traditions. Their surfaces are tactile, lumpy, and seemingly unfinished, at a far remove from the slick and precise surfaces of Modernist sculpture. In their organic formlessness they reference and engage the body. Undermining the conventional understanding that art is "untouchable and sacrosanct," (F. West and D. Birnbaum, "A thousand words: Franz West," Artforum , New York, February 1999, p.84) West's audience is invited to touch the objects, pick them up, and interact with them. West's work straddles the line between serious sculpture and humorous absurdity.
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At first glance, Untitled (Blue) , appears to be firmly in line with sculptural tradition. The surface and shape of the sculpture's blue, inchoate, organic form recalls much of West's previous work. Unlike the earlier pieces, however, Untitled (Blue) is elevated to the status of proper art-object through its position on the pedestal. A closer inspection reveals that all is not right even with the pedestal. Its surface is neither smooth nor polished, but crude and unrefined like the blue mass positioned on its top. In fact, it is not a pedestal at all but a central component of the sculpture itself.