The joy of the Internet is also its drawback: there is simply too much information, much of it excellent, for the mind to absorb. I hope that in making these suggestions for your web surfing I have singled out some of the best.

I had all sorts of goodies to send you to this month, but then I came across the work of Franz West and couldn't let go of it. West died at the aqe of 65 after a long struggle with liver disease. He was well-known in Europe, much less so in the United States. His irreverence, curiosity, and sense of play endear his work to us.

His was not the uptight attitude of formal presentations but rather the fun-loving poke at tradition that most of us wish we had the guts to do or say. Perhaps he ties easily into the current Silicon Valley audacity of Facebook's young brashness, the refusal to be ignored or denied, the sheer gutsiness of do-it-anyway and worry about it later.

In his own words, West tells us: "Early on I realized that the purely visual experience of an an artwork was somehow insufficient. I wanted to go beyond the purely optical and include tactical qualities as well. My works aren't things one just looks at, but things that the viewer is invited to handle. There have been many theories of art that try to break down the border between art and the world, but I don't find such attempts to be particularly meaningful. Art remains art.I really see my work as quite compatible with the l'art pour l'art philosophy. One may think that I try to bring the art object out into the world since my works sometimes appear to have a practical function, but really it's the other way around: things in the world can, under certain special circumstances, enter the realm of art. And, in fact, once they have entered this realm they are art."

West was fond of using found objects, putting a coat of plaster on them, and then adding armatures and extrusions. He created works called "Adaptives". As Frieze magazine describes them, "You can try and stick them under your arm or between your legs,you can press them against your neck or stomach, but the Passtucke simply will not fit: you always end up uncomfortably contorted in a vain attempt to accommodate it - like one of Empedocles' Ur-creatures trying to integrate a reluctant extra limb into your autonomy. The encounter with the sculpture ends up as pure slapstick."

The Guardian characterizes West as "Master of the Lump, the knobbly and inert, the gross and the gangling." Playing with them was like "wrestling with a tuba".

West himself talks about growing up with his dentist Mother ("there was always a lot of screaming and blood"). Responding to Curator Tom Eccles' comment to him "Many of your outdoor works look like large turds or phalluses", West replied "Everybody likes shit anyway. As a child shit is the first gift that you give to your parents".

Reviews of West's art can be found at the following sites:

Public Art Fund.



New York Times

The guardian

c.Corinne Whitaker 2012