Franz West

Wiener Secession

Franz West is one of those Viennese originals whose claim to seriousness is not easily conveyed. Because of the clumsiness, a kind of deliberate elevation of neurosis to the status of ritual, that he cultivated in social situations, he was for a long time an outsider in the Viennese art scene. Then, something over two years ago, he was included in the series of sculpture shows that Harald Szeemann curated in 1985 and ’86, in Zurich, Vienna, and Düsseldorf and his work began a cometlike rise to public attention. Thus the timing of this first retrospective was well-chosen, offering West, now 40, the chance to demonstrate the continuity and development of his work since the early ’70s.

The exhibition’s order was not chronological but grouped the works into classes—paintings, Paszstücke (“Well-fitting” pieces), “transitions,” and indoor (small) and outdoor (large) sculptures. This order, however,

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