by Rachel Sitkin
The Franz West (pr. Vest) retrospective at The BMA is one of the most vibrant, fun museum exhibitions I've seen in a long time, aptly titled "To Build a House You Start With The Roof". The exhibition includes large-scale sculptures, collage, paintings, drawings and photographs from the 1970’s through today. Though West’s work spans a variety of media and form, most of the pieces in this exhibition demonstrate fully his irreverent humor and free, inquisitive spirit.
The Ego and The Id
The first room in the show has two 25-foot-tall aluminum sculpture chairs made especially for the exhibition. Each is a loop-de-loop of color ending in a flat stool, child’s height and size. And you can actually sit on them, as several kids were when I walked in. The subsequent galleries feature a mix of work made through out West’s career, much of which was interactive.
My favorite pieces were a wall of collages featuring cut-out figures from commercial ads paired with an assortment of meat products, and the papier-mâché meteorites made of newspaper, then slathered with paint in bubble gum pink, robin’s egg blue, neon yellow and the like. I also especially liked two of the sculpture lamps that hung form the ceiling, one resemblied a spaceship and another a water-balloon being struck by a light saber.
The overall informality of West’s work and the way Curator Darsie Alexander has designed the show made for an approachable exhibition that could remind trained artists and amateurs alike of the joys of just making. Sometimes it's nice to remember that art need not be perfect, it can be lumpy and silly, or rough and sloppy…like life. The hour plus jaunt to Baltimore is well worth it.
Dorit (on the front lawn of the museum)
On view at The BMA through January 24, 2009