Test, 1994

Basel 2019
Hauser & Wirth, David Zwirner
Installation
Steel, foam rubber, and cotton slipcovers in 28 parts; overall dimensions variable; slipcovers designed by Gilbert Bretterbauer
Emerging in the early 1970s, Austrian-born artist Franz West developed a unique aesthetic that engaged equally high and low reference points and often privileged social interaction as an intrinsic component of his work, thereby calling attention to the larger context of exhibition and display, and the way in which viewers relate to works of art and to each other. Beginning in the 1980s, furniture became a central element of West’s practice. The present installation evolved out of the artist’s Auditorium presented at Documenta IX in 1992, which comprised rows of his now-signature benches covered with Oriental-style carpets placed in a central plaza so that visitors could gather, and also sit and reflect on the exhibition. In its first iteration, Test was installed outside of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 1994, where it was covered with colorful fabrics designed by the artist Gilbert Bretterbauer. That fall, the work was exhibited on the roof of Dia Center for the Arts in New York as Rest, with black-and-white fabrics (also by Bretterbauer). In subsequent installations, the work assumes the name of the fabric used.