David Hammons

  • Franz West, Wegener Räume 2/6–5/6, 1988, metal, wood, papier- mâché, gauze, paint, plaster, collage. Installation view, Galerie Peter Pakesch, Vienna.

    Franz West


    AS SOMEONE WHO HAS WORKED in the field of art for a long time, and who sees art as an essential part of human identity, I have always found it a great privilege to be able to watch firsthand the gradual development of an artist. I feel especially privileged to have done so in the case of an artist as outstanding as Franz West. I knew Franz for many years, and for more than two decades I worked closely with him in a variety of roles: as a gallerist, friend, and museum curator. I was always amazed by the way he continually altered our notions of how art functions and what it means.


    “IF YOU FOLLOW THE DOTS,” says David Hammons, “you’ll end up aboard the Underground Railroad—on Mars.” One is entitled to wonder about the presence of a robotic Mars rover among the images Hammons has selected for these pages. But once you note the name that NASA assigned the craft (Sojourner Truth), the question answers itself. It is useful to remember in this connection that Sun Ra is one of the artist’s favorite musicians and thinkers. “If you came from nowhere here, why can’t you go somewhere there?” Ra used to ask. And, indeed, Hammons is as concerned with the transcendent as he is with