060709: Bawag Contemporary: Young and Reckless 8: Franz Erhard Walther

Bawag Contemporary: Young and Reckless 8: Franz Erhard Walther Through the atlas of the Avant-garde Off we go. Back to the present. Into the contemporary. The motto “Young & Reckless” for the BAWAG Contemporary exhibitions is a popular one. But it has nothing to do with a youth cult referring to biological age. Franz Erhard Walther is more an old valiant than reckless. Not carefree, but a responsible pioneer, whose concepts influenced generations of artists. Already in the 1960s, Kaspar König published Walther’s first art book, and in 1969, Harald Szeemann presented Walther’s works at the legendary “When Attitudes become Form” exhibit in Bern and London – this adumbrates the context in which the then only 30 year-old artist was presented. Walther was the mastermind behind a new perception of art. His artefacts, e.g. a rope and “two auburn velvet cushions” (filled and empty) were not aimed at representing especially aesthetic qualities, but as functional instruments. They were to be perceived as invitations, requests, as something to, to handle, to deal with. The artist released them for mental dialogues, whose meaning was no longer determined by their producer, but by their recipients. Similar to how a differentiation was met between the meaning of significant and significant since the 19th century, the classical unity of the work disintegrated into a material object and individualised attributions of meaning. In the background one could faintly hear Duchamp’s voice. The dialectic composed of a verbalized idea and letting go was essential. This was especially valid for Walther’s text pieces. He had already experimented with liquids on paper, and not only used it as the carrier of clearly defined interpretations, but to integrate variances of the surface into his work. In addition: installations with textiles and later different types of bases, wall formations or space filling installations. But the new options of experience established by Franz Erhard Walther did not lead to the final denouement of his work. This is demonstrated by the BAWAG Contemporary’s facsimile presentation of Walther’s, soon to be published, autobiography. “Sternenstaub – ein gezeichneter Roman” (Stardust - a sketched novel) was created between 2007 and 2008. It represents an atlas leading through the history of the Euro-American postwar Avant-garde - seen from a personal point of view. It is impossible to read all 524 pages at the exhibition. But no matter where one zooms into his work, which reminds of a combination of storyboards and an art sketch book or Rirkrit Tiravanija’s documentary drawings, and which is broader than cinemascope, one always encounters an artist who reflects the development of art and always questions what it means to be “contemporary”. This is a decisive moment at this exhibition - in which relations are adjusted. By Roland Schöny BAWAG Contemporary 1060 Vienna, Barnabitengasse 11-13, until 02.08.09 www.bawagcontemporary.at

BAWAG P.S.K. Contemporary
1010 Wien, Franz Josefs Kai 3
Öffnungszeiten: täglich 14-20h

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