Through the production of participatory objects, fabric sculptures and his own body, Franz Erhard Walther (Fulda, Germany, 1939) expands the definition of art and its relationship to viewers. For the artist, art bears an immaterial and performative character, manifested in the spectator’s individual, physical and mental commitment when he or she comes before artworks.
This exhibition welcomes a selection representing his early series Handlungsstücke (Action Pieces), from the 1960s, which Walther regarded not as a set of performances, but as “demonstrations of work”, where the body, space and time become sculptural materials. These works also include the noteworthy 1. Werksatz (First Work Set, 1963–1969), displayed for the first time at Documenta 5, Kassel (1972), wherein the artist explores many of the ideas that would become pivotal in his later work, such as the relationship between materials and action, viewer and object. The monumental pieces Wandformationen (Wall Formations, 1969–1985) and his installation Das neue Alphabet (The New Alphabet, 1990–1996), which also feature in the exhibition, are a case in point.
The selection is concluded by works on paper from his early period, for instance the series Wortbilder (Word Pictures, late 1950s), in addition to historical photographs and videos.
Moreover, during the show Walther and various actors, under the artist’s instruction, will activate some of his “action pieces”.