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Franz Erhard Walther

Architektur Mit Weichem Kern

Franz Erhard Walther's concept of the artwork as such developed from the late 1950s, at a time when many artists were starting to question the parameters of art. Traditional forms of art were not capable of expressing Walther's artistic aspirations at the time; he found it more interesting to examine material processes, action and even modes of exhibition as components in the definition of an artwork.

Thus, according to Walther's concept, art had an immaterial, performative character and took place within the individual physical and mental processes enacted by those encountering particular works. The role of the artist shifted from being the creator of works with a particular meaning to becoming the mere facilitator of a conscious and personal experiencing of aesthetic phenomena. This tendency had already been adumbrated in early actions such as Versuch, eine Plastik zu sein (Trying to be a sculpture, 1958), and, after many years in which Walther experimented with a variety of materials, led finally in 1963 to the discovery of the technique of sewing, a working method that met Walther's need for formal rigour. The works he produced up to 1969 using this technique were to be collected in the so-called 1. Werksatz (First Work Set). The 58 individual works sewn from sturdy fabric that comprise the 1. Werksatz, which Walther called “Werkstücke” (Work pieces) or “Handlungsstücke” (Action pieces), were for him simply “forms” that prescribed concrete patterns of action and were reliant on being actually handled by one or several participants for attaining the character of an artwork, a character that remained bound to the action itself.


Interview | Franz Erhard Walther


  • Marie-Noëlle Farcy