When is a chair not just a chair? When it’s a Franz West creation. The Austrian artist erased conventional boundaries separating art and the every day, and produced works that brought the audience in on the process — like his portable Passstucke sculptures that people could pick up, pose with, stick their arms and heads through or his famous chair, chaise and divan designs that, yes, gallery goers could actually sit on and relax in. This was West thumbing his nose at the “see, don’t touch” air that surrounds traditional art and the traditional art setting. With his exhibits, viewers engaged. They participated. They interacted.
You can explore that world now at Gagosian Gallery’s Möbelskulpturen/Furniture Works before it ends its run on November 7th. The show features a number of West’s furniture pieces — a metal coat rack, a tubular steel bookshelf and, of course, his beautifully spare canvas dining chairs (above) lacquered in saturated hues to color-block effect. Consider them paintings to be sat on. It’s a new (or, rather, old) take on “user experience.”