This week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast remembers Austrian artist Franz West, who died two weeks ago at age 65. West was one of European art’s most Puckish innovators. His art was playful and sly — he often encouraged viewers to pick up and play with or to sit down on his work — but it was also deeply rooted in the intellectual history of Vienna, his lifelong hometown.
Joining me to discuss West’s life and work is Darsie Alexander, the chief curator at the Walker Art Center. In 2008 Alexander curated West’s only American retrospective, which opened at the Baltimore Museum of Art and traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (I reviewed it here: Part one on West’s relationship with Vienna, part twoon 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.)
Alexander and I discuss:
- The seeming chaos in which West worked;
- His penchant for heading to a Viennese techno club on Monday nights;
- Why sitting — yes, sitting — was important to West’s work; and
- West’s relationship with his beloved home city of Vienna.
In the second segment, artists Steve Roden and Stephen Vitiello join me to discuss their recent collaboration in Houston. In association with the exhibition “Silence,” in which both artists are represented and which is on view at The Menil Collection through, Roden and Vitiello performed a sound piece at The Rothko Chapel. Roden and Vitiello have also provided an extended audio clip from their improvised performance, The Spaces Contained in Each.
Roden works in many media, including painting, video and sound. He was the subject of a Howard Fox-curated 2010 career survey at Pasadena’s Armory Center for the Arts. His work is in the collection of MOCA, LACMA, MCASD, the Blanton and the Henry Art Gallery. Stephen Vitiello is a sound artist who has created work for MASS MoCA, The High Line in New York City, the Chinati Foundation and the Tate Modern.
The Modern Art Notes Podcast is an independent production of Modern Art Notes Media. It is released under this Creative Commons license. The program was edited by Wilson Butterworth. For images and video of the works discussed on this week’s show, click through to the jump.