Man with a Ball, is opening tomorrow at the Gagosian Gallery, London. Running until 10 November, this major sculpture exhibition was prepared by Franz West up until his untimely death earlier this summer. Refusing to accept the passive relationship between artwork and viewer, West focused on the development of Actionist and Performance Art. West’s work is imposing and intense and yet still light-hearted and full of freedom, work where form and function complete one another- rather than being mutually exclusive.
Beginning in the 70s, West produced the first of the small, portable sculptures, entitled Adaptives. These small artworks are only complete once the viewer holds, wears, carries or performs with them. Adapting the knowlegde he gained from his formative works, West began expoloring sculpture increasingly. He had a fascination with the reactions expressed by viewers before objects in exhibition spaces, while also examining the internal aesthetic relationship between sculpture and painting.
Once he had developed his signature style, ever more daring and imaginative congfigurations emerged, making him a staple of the contemporary exhibition circuit. Producing a stream of sculptural situations, each new work building on the distinctiveness of the previous piece, he gradually changed public spaces into sociable aesthetic environments that challenged the accepted boundaries between art and life.
Man with a Ball further showcases West’s persistent irreverence with the principles of classical sculpture. Produing his pieces out of papier-mâché, polystyrene and the odd cardboard box, the materials are smeared, brushed and splashed in every which way. In contrast with the smaller sculptures, four immense fiberglass assemblages for indoor or outdoor placement recall the patchworked manufacture of old Lockheed aircraft. However, instead of allowing the sculptures any grandeur- West subversively positions them in cartoonish shapes creating a comic effect.
Man with a Ball, by Franz West, 9 October until 10 November, Gagosian Gallery, 6-24 Britannia Street, London, WC1X 9JD
1. Untitled, 2012, Franz West, copyright Franz West Privatstiftung, courtesy Gagosian Gallery, Photo Marina Faust.
2. Untitled, 2012, Franz West, copyright Franz West Privatstiftung, courtesy Gagosian Gallery, Photo Heiri Häfliger; Atelier Franz West.
3. Untitled, 2012, Franz West, copyright Franz West Privatstiftung, courtesy Gagosian Gallery Photo Michaela Obermaier.