View of “Franz Erhard Walther,” 2012.

View of “Franz Erhard Walther,” 2012.

Franz Erhard Walther

ZKM | Center for Art and Media

View of “Franz Erhard Walther,” 2012.

In recent years, the story of Franz Erhard Walther, when told, has been of his influence. A classmate of Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, and Blinky Palermo at the art academy in Düsseldorf, later the teacher of Martin Kippenberger, Christian Jankowski, and Jonathan Meese, among others, in Hamburg, Walther occupies a pivotal position in postwar German art history. This narrative of influence, however, threatens to obscure the importance of his own work, with its material sophistication and conceptual acuity—as evidenced by the four dynamic pieces that constituted this very thoughtfully conceived exhibition, curated by Peter Weibel and Andreas F. Beitin.

One hundred and fifty-eight pieces of steel comprised the bulk of the exhibition—slender forms laid out across wide expanses of the museum’s cavernous ground-floor space or stored out of the way in neat stacks. Together,

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