Franz West, Austrian, 1947 - 2012
Extreme sophistication merges with the informal, and at times the abject, in Franz West's work. He puts the material quality of his art on display, revealing how art is first and foremost matter transformed, but always matter nonetheless. Delivery is both joyful and ironic in its celebration of color, arbitrariness, and sheer playfulness. Its unexpected beauty comes from its studied casualness and the assertive singularity of each object. The viewer gets the impression that combining irony and beauty is not only possible, but also somehow natural. West came of age as an artist during the heyday of the Vienna Actionists, whose gory sensationalism he disliked. He was, nonetheless, imbued with the sense of art as something to be engaged with the body, actively produced and experienced.