Monday, July 14, 2008

Go West

We’re big fans of Franz West, the Austrian artist who lives in Vienna. The work is amazing but we’re also very interested in the way he has built an international career without leaving his home town. In the late 60s in New Zealand the famous art critic Clement Greenberg proclaimed that he didn’t believe a great art work of international importance could ever be made in a country as small and as isolated as New Zealand. At the time it felt like American arrogance, but many of the new generation of NZ artists evidently feel the same judging by the amount of time they spend out of the country. No doubt at the time Greenberg would have made the same assessment of Austria, so Franz West has always been a bit of a finger in the eye to the grouchy old Yank. We don't know what West’s secret is, but suspect it has something to do with productivity and his process as well as the extraordinary qualities of Vienna. The latest issue of Spike has a revealing interview with him by Andreas Reiter Raabe with West discussing his process. West’s work is made with the help of many assistants and we got to see lots of his chairs, tables, cupboards, lamps etc at MAK as well a new lamp in a Viennese collector’s apartment. When we were shown into the living room to see the lamp, next to it was a work by Simon Denny. It was a strange sensation looking out over the Viennese skyline with these two works beside us.
Image: Left Simon Denny Untitled (Green ties) and right a lamp by Franz West