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Franz Erhard Walther. Shifting Perspectives
06 March until 02 August 2020

Haus der Kunst

Franz Erhard Walther (b. 1939 in Fulda) was a key figure in the conceptual departure from the image in the postwar European avant-garde, and a pioneer of an open concept of the work. Through the inclusion of the audience as an actor as well as the use of elements like place, time, space, body, and language, Walther brought about a radical expansion and combination of artistic means aimed at revising the narrative strategies of modernism. The visionary significance of his artistic praxis is only becoming clear to the general public, as demonstrated by the awarding of the Golden Lion to him at the Venice Biennale in 2017.
The artist’s early work, from the 1950s onwards has always been characterized by an emphasis on experimentation. Walther lends an almost inexhaustible variety of pictorial concepts and ideas to the procedural form. Walther questioned materiality with processes involving coffee, vegetable oil or soy sauce on paper as an image carrier. By means of serially arranged wrapping paper packages or paper works with air enclosures, he enacts the transformation of the picture into an object. The first word images, such as museum, I am outside, COLLECTION or NEW YORK during his training as a typographer formulate an ingenious critique of the art system. While studying at the Düsseldorf Academy, he sought at the same time as the fading postwar painting of the informal in formlessness the form, and discovered the action in the gesture.

 

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Fig.: Franz Erhard Walther, Raumabnahme Blau, 1997/98, Collection of The Franz Erhard Walther Foundation, Foto: Jens Rathmann, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Franz Erhard Walther Foundation Archives, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020

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