According to numerous European press reports, Franz West has died. He was 65.
West died in at the Vienna General Hospital, which is sort of fitting because no contemporary artist is as closely identified with the intellectual history of his city as is West. For decades, Vienna and its artists, designers and thinkers were his great subject.
West’s only American retrospective was organized by the Baltimore Museum of Art and curator Darsie Alexander in 2008 and traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The show didn’t quite capture the Puckish eroticism or body-centricness of some of West’s work (can an American museum do that?) but it was still awfully good. I had fun reviewing it here: Part one on West’s relationship with Vienna, part two on West’s take on the Viennese actionists and Gustav Klimt, part three on West and Vienna’s psychoanalysts, part four on West and Freud, and part five circles back to West’s greatest influence, Klimt.
[Image: Franz West, Dorit, 2002. Installed at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 2008.]