FRANZ WEST (1947-2012)
FRANZ WEST (1947-2012)
FRANZ WEST (1947-2012)
2 More
FRANZ WEST (1947-2012)
5 More
The Collection of Thomas and Doris Ammann
FRANZ WEST (1947-2012)

Untitled (Lemur Pink)

Details
FRANZ WEST (1947-2012)
Untitled (Lemur Pink)
papier-mâché, styrofoam, acrylic lacquer and metal
59 x 29 1⁄8 x 22 1⁄2 in. (150 x 74 x 57 cm.)
Executed in 2008.
Provenance
Gagosian Gallery, London
Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG, Zurich
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Brought to you by

Michael Baptist
Michael Baptist Specialist

Lot Essay

Austrian-born sculptor Franz West changed how we think about the world around us by composing lively, fantastical forms and objects. His Untitled (Lemur Pink), a seminal example of his later work, is playful and dynamic, lighting up a room with its reddish-pink curves. Known for his use of quotidian materials, like papier-mâché, Styrofoam, polyester, and plaster, West’s objects are accessible, familiar, and, even in their otherworldly presence and shifting functionality, continuous with the domestic space. West drew from Pop, Surrealism, and Dada to create a universe not so different than our own, infusing our reality with lighthearted and engaging sculptural entities meant to be lived with, touched, and held. In response to his predecessors, the Viennese Actionists, West chose to take a less pessimistic and aggressive approach and instead touch upon existential questions via closeness, quirkiness, and optimism. A central influence on a generation of artists, his work has been shown all over the world since the late 1980s, including at the historic Documenta 10. A major retrospective was organized by the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris in 2018 that travelled to the Tate Modern, London, the following year. In 2011, the year before his death, he was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 54th Biennale di Venezia.

Nearly five feet high, Untitled (Lemur Pink) is almost life size, a limber body that does not seem grotesque, but rather something with which an empathetic bond can be formed. West reminds us that our bodies too are always in progress. Defying gravity on a narrow pedestal, the structures of Untitled (Lemur Pink) are biomorphic, and they appear to grow from their supporting rod like a piece of exploding popcorn. A beckoning mouth forms, asking to be seen and recognized, and atop it is an eastward swoosh of color, like a luxurious garment in the breeze.

Aside from bodily connotations, Untitled (Lemur Pink) is equally a study in color and weight, with West’s pinkish reds modulated throughout the surface as they interact with the papier-mâché underneath. Throughout art history, pink has been a marker of the technical mastery of painting flesh, as with the erotic skin tones of the Rococo artists of the eighteenth century to Willem de Kooning’s Pink Angels. West says of his use of color, “In my case the paint application is more or less independent of the place where it is applied, so to that extent it is not painted in the traditional sense. It is my own way of using paint” (F. West, quoted in A. Reiter Raabe, “Interview: Franz West—You Select Before You Have Decided, Spike Art Magazine, Summer 2008). Each of West’s chosen media, from paint to sculpture, thus have their own lives, just as Untitled (Lemur Pink) seems to exist in its own space and time that is nevertheless adjacent to ours. The sculpture’s namesake pink, a hue that seems to float among the clouds, is both weightless and affixed, celestial and earthbound. It is a daydream that is in the process of getting off the ground, and the pedestal is a suggestion, not an immutable truth. Interestingly, West has referenced lemurs elsewhere in his work, most notably his ambitious 4 Larvae (Lemur Heads) from 2001, which were displayed on the Stubenbrücke in Vienna. West’s choice of references, in the tradition of the readymade, becomes a part of the artwork himself, thereby allowing Untitled (Lemur Pink) to manifest multiple interpretations that operate between the practicalities of the physical environment and a realm of wonder.

Awe has always been a part of West’s career, and he transmits it to us with generosity. He recalls his youthful travels in Italian towns and cities, where he was charmed by “the fountain in the middle of a central square and people sitting around having conversations. From that experience came this ideal of sitting in the art, like a goal of sitting in the clouds: sitting in the art consuming life” (F. West, quoted in T. Eccles, “An Audience with Franz West,” ArtReview, October 19, 2018). Untitled (Lemur Pink) inspires us to have those important conversations among the clouds, illustrating how West has always sought to create communities and discourses.
A sculpture of singular tenderness, Untitled (Lemur Pink) is a summary of decades of introspection, playfulness, and multi-media permutations of the expected. Created near the end of his life, it is a testament to West’s perennial desire to connect with his viewership and offer a gateway to the extraordinary. Yet Untitled (Lemur Pink) is also a part of the everyday, a study in how the body, itself a sculpture in progress, evolves over time. With simultaneous irreverence and appreciation for sculpture, West choreographs a series of moments and gestures that place us within a beautifully complex ballet.

More from The Collection of Thomas and Doris Ammann Evening Sale

View All
View All