Franz West, pioneer of playfulness for the sake of playfulness, has died at the age of 65 from illness. The Austria-native sculptor studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and made his debut into the art world with his “Passstücke” (Adaptives) sculptures in the early 1970s, which differentiated him from the transgressive gravity of the Actionist world from which he came.
In good humor, West pumped out colorful blobs, swirls, and zig zags, among other brightly hued contorted shapes, over the span of his 30-odd-year long career, culminating in a retrospective at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 2008. His work involved plaster, papier-mache, wire, aluminum, and other ordinary materials one might expect to find in an elementary school art room, complementing his peculiar encouragement of spectator interaction with his art and inspiring the youthful imagination of those who view it. West’s work has been celebrated around the globe and gained him a number of awards including the Golden Lion in 2011, the highest prize offered by the Venice Biennale.
Today, we celebrate West’s groundbreaking legacy.