West was born in Vienna, Austria, where he studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste. His Adaptives, which he began creating during the 1970s, are considered his first significant sculptures. Influenced by the action and performance art of the 1960s, including Vienna’s Actionism movement, his work provides a vital connection between central European art practices of the last few decades.
The nature of the relationship between artwork and viewer is a traditionally passive one, yet West parodies this idea by using materials more often associated with ‘low’ art. His misshapen creations are often made of papier-mâché, and balance precariously on their readymade plinths. They are complete only once viewers have touched, worn or played with them.
Franz West died in 2012.