new-york

Franz West

David Zwirner | 519 West 19th Street

The Dadaists wanted to throw it in the face of bourgeois culture; Piero Manzoni canned it as a consumable, signaling a perversely clean form of capitalist repression; and Joseph Beuys ironically monumentalized it. Enacting a Nietzschean flight into corporeal affirmation/negation, Hermann Nitsch’s and Otto Mühl’s Wiener Aktionismus group’s quasi-Dionysian performances often involved smearing the body with what appear to be its own secretions.

This complex history of the scatological in art is reflected in the work of Austrian artist, Franz West, specifically in his investment in the art object as a kind of petrification of pre-Oedipal narcissism. Indeed, the recurring use of papier-mâché in West’s work suggests a desire to reclaim the supposedly unrepressed scene of childhood—a gesture of resistance against societal taboos and prohibitions. West’s use of these materials seems to reflect a

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