Franz Erhard Walther: Creation Needs Action

Franz Erhard Walther: Creation Needs ActionNovember 16-19
101 Spring Street
New York, NY

For more than sixty years, German conceptual artist Franz Erhard Walther has been radically reimagining the relationship between space, objects, and bodies. His installations are often comprised of sculptures made of canvas and other fabrics that can hang on the wall, lay on the floor or be worn by the artist as well as audience members. Users are invited by Walther to manipulate his sculptures and explore the tensions amongst them.

Co-produced with Judd Foundation, Walther’s Performa Commission Creation Needs Action reflects on the relationship between Walther and Judd and offers a means to compare their work. Comprising three groupings of Walther’s work from different periods of his oeuvre, Walther will present a selection of “activations” from his early 1. Werksatz pieces (1963-69) to his most recent series Action Paths (1997–2003) featuring himself, audience members, and invited New York artists and performers.

Curated by Charles Aubin, Senior Curator and Head of Publications at Performa.

Jump to About Franz Erhard Walther

About Franz Erhard Walther

Franz Erhard Walther (b. 1939, Fulda, Germany) is recognized as a pioneer of participatory art whose work, beginning in the late 1950s, has been defined by a radical openness, incorporating material processes, and later the spectator, as an active participant in its realization. For his First Work Set (1963–1969), in which the use of simple physical actions like pressing, folding, and wrapping is a key principle, the potential handling of the work becomes imperative to its construction. In the works’ activation, the viewer is provided with a unique experience wherein the body becomes an extension of the object. Walther’s works allow multiple exhibition possibilities, primarily with regard to their activation or inactivation. Polymorphic, it can be hung or leaned against the wall, placed on horizontal supports, or even stored in receptacles or fabric membranes. This fluid configuration expands the boundless permutations of the sculptural form, an idea further expanded through his drawing practice. For Walther, both mediums bring to focus a central concern: the physical act of creation.

Walther, recipient of the Golden Lion for best artist at the 2017 Venice Biennale, lives and works in Fulda, Germany. The artist gained recognition in the 1960s for his experimental sculpture, and was included in important group exhibitions of that era, such as When Attitudes Become Form (1969, curated by Harald Szeeman at Kunsthalle Bern, recreated for the 2013 Venice Biennale), and Spaces at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1969). His work is in many public collections, including Art Institute of Chicago; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Dia Art Foundation, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. Recent solo exhibitions include those at Haus der Kunst, Munich (2020), Fundacion Jumex Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City (2018); Ludwig Forum, Aachen, Germany (2017); Reina Sofia, Madrid (2017); Power Plant, Toronto (2016); and Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2015-2016).

Jump to About Performa

About Performa

Founded in 2004 by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa has expanded the possibilities for visual artists working in performance, providing essential curatorial and production support, and, with its dedicated biennial, providing a worldwide platform for performance of the 21st century. Performa Commissions have entirely changed the possibilities of the form and its educational programs have shown its rich history as an integral part of artistic practice, reaching back through the centuries to the Renaissance. This visionary organization has entirely transformed every art institution’s approach to visual art performance, now a staple in art museums and galleries throughout the world. Since 2005, Performa has presented nine editions of its three-week international Performa Biennial that have animated every borough of New York City every other year.