Franz Erhard Walther, 1. Werksatz in Lagerform (First Work Set in Storage Form), 1963–69, canvas, foam, wood, mixed media. Installation view, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland, 1992. Photo: Emmanuel Ammon. © Franz Erhard Walther/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

IN THE SUMMER of 1972, at Documenta 5, Franz Erhard Walther demonstrated the use of the fifty-eight discrete objects of his 1. Werksatz (First Work Set), 1963–69. Now iconic, the 1. Werksatz exemplifies the type of art for which Walther is best known: wall-hung or floor-bound cloth works that are meant to be activated in particular ways by visitors, or “users.” Documenta 5 presents a historic moment in the changing attitudes of institutions and the public toward participatory or action-based art. Curated by Harald Szeemann under the rubric “Questioning Reality,” the exhibition marked the culmination of an already decade-long artistic interrogation of traditional models of contemplative spectatorship. In Kassel, Joseph Beuys opened his Organization for Direct Democracy by Referendum, David Medalla and John Dugger set up a “People’s Participation Pavilion,” and Anatol Herzfeld

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