Franz West: Autotheater / Retrospective at Museum Ludwig, Cologne

Until mid-March 2010 Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany shows the first major retrospective of Franz West (born 1947 in Vienna) in Europe. The Austrian sculptor is considered as one of the most influential artists of our times.

On display are over 40 works dating from 1972 to the present, which in some cases the artist has grouped together in themed constellations. The title Autotheater (Auto-Theatre) points to the performative, interactive dimension of his work. According to Franz West his Passstücke (Adaptives) “are sculptures as it were that one can pick up and use to gesticulate however one sees fit”. West has also extended this dialogue with the viewer to include his furniture sculptures, which he has produced since the mid-eighties. Since the nineties he has worked increasingly with others artists, such as for instance Michelangelo Pistoletto (Spiegel in Kabine mit Passstücken = Mirror in Cubicle with Adaptives) and Heimo Zobernig (Auto Sex).

The exhibition has been conceived in close collaboration with the artist and presents his works in new combinations and in new contexts.

Franz West’s ties with Cologne go back many years. In 1981 Museum Ludwig’s director Kasper König showed West’s Adapatives for the first time in the exhibition Westkunst. In 1998 the Gesellschaft für moderne Kunst am Museum Ludwig awarded Franz West the Wolfgang Hahn Prize and purchased his Kantine for the museum. As early as in 2001 the museum arranged for a Franz West installation to be exhibited on a short-term basis as part of the “Museum of our Wishes” – Kasper König’s first exhibition at Museum Ludwig. This was followed in 2006 by the museum purchasing the work Plural (2006). Thus, Franz West ‘s retrospective “Auto-Theatre” constitutes a logical progression in the museum’s enduring interest in this artist.

The loans come both from the artist’s studio and internationally renowned museums and private collections, including the Galerie für zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig, the Generali Foundation, Mumok Wien, the Essl Collection, Kunstsammlung NRW, Centre Pompidou, the Grässlin Collection, Anton and Annick Herbert.

The exhibition will move on in May 2010 to Madre in Napels and in September 2010 to Kunsthaus Graz.

Franz West: Autotheater / Retrospective at Museum Ludwig, Cologne. Exhibition walkthrough, January 6, 2010.

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