Franz West was part of a generation of Austrian artists influenced by performance and Actionism who aimed to create an active relationship between the viewer and the work of art. In the 1970s, he began to produce his first Adaptives (passstücke), small, portable sculptures made of plaster, wire, and papier-mâché that only became “complete” works of art when the viewer interacted with them. In later sculptural works, he extended this emphasis on participatory experiences to create large-scale installations and sculptural environments. Using a variety of materials, West created brightly colored, amorphous totems intended to transform their surroundings. West also created furniture designs that he conceived as intimately related to his sculptures, emphasizing his interest in the relationship between the work of art and the body of the viewer.
West’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions, including solo shows and retrospectives at institutions including Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London, MASS MoCA, the Vienna Secession, and the Museum of Modern Art and has made numerous appearances at the Venice Biennale.