Haus der Kunst in Munich is dedicating a major retrospective to the German artist's visionary work with more than 250 art works, opening on March 5th on view until the end of November 2020.
In his oeuvre, Walther combines a basic exploration of the notion of sculpture with an accentuation of its origination process. Although his works are reminiscent of Minimalism in their simplicity and reduced form, Walther's approach is different. He regards his objects as working material that can be used to trigger fundamental experiences. For Walther, that means questions of self-definition, of orientation, and of the formation of consciousness. The viewers enter into an active dialogue with the works through so-called 'work actions', which alters the traditional concept of viewer and work and leads to an 'other concept of the work (of art)' (Walther).
When the artist married Johanna Friesz, a tailor's daughter, in 1963, it had a profound impact on his artistic work. In the workshop of his parents-in-law, he saw cotton fabrics, muslin inlays and padded linings, which he immediately recognized as a new material for his works.
But though this object, as most of Walther's work, invites touching, the later work groups are predominantly made for contemplation, an understanding of art the artist left behind more than forty years ago. Thus, in his late oeuvre, he has returned to the picture.
Walther took part in documenta four times and attained international recognition with his innovative approach to the notion of the work of art. As early as 1969, he exhibited his famous 'First Work Set' at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This was an interactive installation comprised of 58 objects made of the most diverse materials; they were to be 'used' by the viewers, for instance by opening objects, lying down inside them, or turning them into geometric forms. Other important groups of works include the 'Second Work Set' started in 1969, with 'Advancing Elements' and 'Standing and Advancing Elements', as well as the 'Wall Formations' from 1979 on, and the 'Action Tracks' in the 1990s.
Image: Franz Erhard Walther 'Muss verbunden werden' 1985, exhibition view
© Galerie Thomas Modern 2020