Elemental design: Gagosian NY celebrates the work of Franz West
The late Austrian sculptor, designer and installation artist Franz West, who was honoured with the Venice Biennale Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement back in 2011, continues to be feted internationally for his pioneering oeuvre, reflecting and encompassing participation, play and design.
This month, New York’s Gagosian Gallery outpost is celebrating his distinctive design with new editions of his works, produced by Franz West Privatstiftung in West’s Vienna studio by his staff. But this range of the designer’s furniture, initially launched from 1992–2011, is rooted in more than mere functionality.
‘Transcending the entrenched status of art as object for pure contemplation, West designed these furniture works as constituents of sculpture that are as elemental as they are convivial,’ says Ealan Wingate, the Gagosian’s New York director.
The works on view include sofas upholstered in raw linen and tables with steel legs encased in cardboard tubing. Nor is West’s work solely marked by spare lines and beige upholstery; there’s a metal coat rack of sinuous pink squiggles and chairs punched up with bold palettes.
High profile museums like Centre Georges Pompidou and the MAXXI in Rome hold examples of West’s design in their permanent collections. ‘True to West’s vision, the works have drawn a devoted following of collectors,’ says Wingate. Private collectors include London auctioneer Simon de Pury and Upper East Side/London dealer Dominique Levy, along with Andrew Hall – founder of the Hall Art Foundation in Reading, Vermont – and artist Mary Heilmann. ‘Fifteen years ago, Franz and I showed in the same Vienna gallery and I was struck then by his domestic design sensibility while crossing over into serious sculpture,’ says Heilmann. Today, West’s pronounced aesthetic and philosophy remain paramount, embraced by an increasingly wide audience.