With their steel frames draped in brightly-coloured woven fabric, Franz West’s Onkel-Stühle (Uncle Chairs) are among his most important works. Evolving from his early Adaptives – a series of abstract sculptures intended to be physically handled by the viewer – West’s chairs embody his fascination with the relationship between art and object. ‘In historic art museums ... you find tables and chairs in the exhibition spaces that are not to be used’, he explains. ‘I used to ask myself the same sort of questions that they would ask, like, “Is that art disguised as furniture or is it furniture disguised as art?” or “What gives these items of furniture the right to be in these rooms?” ... Then I saw Artschwager and Beuys’ chair of fat (tempting his adversaries to sit down on it), which created a sensation at the time, and I also saw the difficulty of evaluating art. In the eighties, an Italian furniture company asked if people would like to submit designs and to my astonishment leading Minimal and Conceptual artists did indeed send drawings. I jumped on the bandwagon and, in the process, acquired an identity – that of an activist fighting for the emancipation of furniture’ (F. West in conversation with A. Spira, 2003, reproduced in V. Loers, Franz West, Cologne 2006, p. 138). The subject of his acclaimed installation at Documenta X in 1997, West’s chairs invite the viewer to sit down, whilst simultaneously retaining their status as elusive works of art.