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Franz West (1947-2012)
Franz West (1947-2012)
Franz West (1947-2012)
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Franz West (1947-2012)
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Property from a Private American Collection
Franz West (1947-2012)

Onkel-Stuhl (Uncle Chair) [Fourteen Works]

Details
Franz West (1947-2012)
Onkel-Stuhl (Uncle Chair) [Fourteen Works]
stamped with the respective number 'P646, P782, P829, P842, P843, P844, P846, P860, P863, P864, P897, P898, P905, P906' (on the rear leg of each chair)
woven synthetic textile over steel tubular frame
each: 33 1/8 x 20 x 20 1/8 in. (84.1 x 50.8 x 51.1 cm.)
Executed in 2001-2009. These works are uniquely executed and from an open edition.
Provenance
Gagosian Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2010

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Isabella Lauria
Isabella Lauria Post-War & Contemporary Art

Lot Essay

Early on, I realized that the purely visual experience of an artwork was somehow insufficient. When I started to work as an artist, I wanted to expand the traditional boundaries of sculpture and found inspiration in Fluxus, although that movement didn't have much of a presence in Vienna, where I have always lived. I wanted to go beyond the purely optical and include tactile qualities as well. My works aren't things one just looks at, but things that the viewer is invited to handle.
—Franz West

With their steel frames draped in brightly-colored straps of fabric, Franz West’s Onkel-Stühle (Uncle Chairs) are among his most important works. In the early 1980s, aping the bourgeois furniture designs of his native Austria, West began to produce chairs, tables and lamps that invited interaction from the viewer. The chairs in particular have since become a constant presence in his practice, featuring twice at Documenta in the 1990s, as well as in installations at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the Dia Center for the Arts, New York.

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. His first chairs, made in the 1980s, were welded together from scrap metal. Then, for his 1989 solo show at MoMA PS1, West included his chairs along with the day’s newspaper – inviting viewers to sit down and linger. Eventually, West would evolve the chairs by adding upholstery and linings, and, in the case of the Uncle chairs, a colorful weave of straps.

As with many of West's sculptures, the audience is invited to play an interactive role. “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?'" (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 unequivocally invite the viewer to sit down, whilst simultaneously retaining their status as elusive works of art. His furniture sculptures are held in museum collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.

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