TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT March 1989

FRANZ WEST: THE ANTIBODY TO ANTI-BODY

FRANZ WEST'S SCULPTURES ORBIT around opposing poles. Their initial impact is of a kind of bodily impurity—the forms are amorphous, the surfaces crusty, even coarse. Yet there is also an underlying elegance in these works, even a hyperelegance, as if their blemishes of the skin had erupted from some dazzling interior charge. They are at once Caliban and Ariel.

To combat the “cleanly” aspects of Modernism—the Modernism of even, unornamented lines and coolly ideated forms—is an old trait in Viennese art, which, from Hermann Nitsch’s and Otto Mühl’s physical-theater Aktionismus work back through Secession painters such as Gustav Klimt, Richard Gerstl, and Egon Schiele, has posited esthetic good hygiene as anti-body and therefore anti-life. To varying degrees, such artists consciously turned away from social reality in favor of a quasi-autistic, narcissistic focus on the self and on the body—a

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