#87 Franz West by Jerome William Lee Webby

Turning his back on the traditions of the ornamental, sublime and polished forms of Modernism, Franz West’s work stands as a triumph of innovation.

We are confronted with a dichotomy – between the serious, and the casual, dysfunctional and seemingly thrown together form. Critics have spoken of West’s work inhabiting the ‘in-between’. That is, they do not lie in Modernist sculpture with the likes of Robert Morris and Donald Judd, for they are too sarcastic, too slapstick, too chaotic and un-polished. But his sculptures cannot be deemed merely ‘junk art’ either – for they are too ridden with references to the psyche, to sexuality, to people, or the social inscriptions of the artwork itself.

West’s works are not complete until a relationship with the viewer is established. Some of West’s more recent works are meant to be handled, carried around and worn. They become a kind of social furniture, whereby the erratic bodily behaviour of the viewers move in relation to the work they are faced with; this physicality elucidating West’s underlying interest in the human psyche.

So what does this say about art? How does this emphasise the fact that West’s work is totally devoid of any artistic precursor, while seemingly displaying an awareness of thousands of years of human-created art? West’s work is derived from life. Its organic evolution of bodily and natural references creates a forum for the public.

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I like Jerome. He’s 19, but seems to have the mind of a middle aged academic in his prime. As well as being a budding scholar, he’s also an accomplished photographer who’s had his work hung in galleries and even shown on TV. What’s not to love?

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