The Austrian Cultural Forum New York is honored to present WILD WEST, a group exhibition commemorating the dynamic legacy of late Austrian artist Franz West (1947-2012). On view from September 20, 2017 to January 22, 2018, the show curated by former West-collaborator Andreas Reiter Raabe consists of works by Franz West, his New York-based contemporaries, and commissioned works by emerging artists from both New York and Austria.
The exhibition’s title acts as a play on words for West’s nonconformist, anarchic approach to artmaking, as well as his critical place in 20th-century Western art history. His deep curiosity for alternative ways of thinking and exhibiting manifested in his numerous collaborations with fellow artists and creatives. During the height of his career in the mid- 1980s, West chose to break the conventions of a traditional “solo show” by offering other—often unknown—artists to exhibit their work alongside his—much to the surprise of the institutions that invited him. This non-hierarchical approach stood in stark contrast to West’s tremendous success in the art world, which is frequently preoccupied with authorship and individual fame.
A key work in the exhibition is Franz West (2017) by Reiter Raabe, a film composed of never-before-seen footage Reiter Raabe shot in West’s studio between 2007 and 2012. The film lends an intimate glimpse into West’s studio practice, affirming the equivocal nature of his thought processes and revealing West’s idiosyncratic approach to art, his wild way of thinking, working, and collaborating.
WILD WEST follows West’s unique approach to exhibition-making by showing not only the works of Franz West, but also of his collaborators and emerging artists. Exhibiting artists include: Rudolf Stingel, Urs Fischer, Mary Heilmann, Rudolf Polanszky, Octavian Trauttmansdorff, Sarah Lucas, and Andreas Reiter Raabe. The exhibition will also feature artists who have not previously exhibited with West, such as Anna-Sophie Berger, Tillman Kaiser, Anne Schneider, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and KAYA (Kerstin Brätsch and Debo Eilers). While the exhibition presents collaborations, such as Reiter Raabe/West’s sculptural lamps Fleur Mal, 2012, it also features new commissions such as Tiravaija’s sculpture untitled (east meets west), 2017, a granite tombstone in West’s body height.