Peter Freeman, Inc., New York is pleased to announce a retrospective exhibition of Franz Erhard Walther’s work in sculpture and drawing from over a period of 50 years. Curated by Erik Verhagen and Susanne Walther, Migration of Forms 1956-2006 also marks 50 years since the 80-year-old German artist’s inclusion in the iconic Spaces exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1969.
The curators chose the works on view to highlight the mobility of forms in Walther's works, both over time and through modes of exhibition. Long recognized as a key originator of participatory art, Walther’s works allow multiple exhibition possibilities, primarily with regard to their activation/inactivation. Polymorphic, the work can be hung or leaned against the wall or placed on horizontal supports, or even stored in receptacles or fabric membranes. The more than 250 Gouache Drawings (1961), usually presented in stacks, will here be exhibited for the first time on the wall. Trial Sewings, confined for many years in purgatory to "preparatory work," have been transformed into works in their own right.
From one period to another, and from one family of works to another, certain "configurations" reappear or give rise to subtle variations: a survival of forms exists (calling to mind the concept of the Nachleben, as outlined by art historian Aby Warburg). In this respect, drawing constitutes a formidable reservoir for the artist, allowing him to generate countless matrices that can be used infinitely. For instance, the Workdrawings from the 1960s and 1970s compose a repertoire of forms for Walther, upon which he has drawn repeatedly. These works are the heart of the exhibition, testifying to the intertextual quality of Walther’s migration of forms.
Walther, recipient of the Golden Lion for best artist at the 2017 Venice Biennale, was born in 1939 in Fulda, Germany, where he now lives and works. Walther 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). 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 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).
A reception for the artist will be held Tuesday 10 September from 6 to 8 pm. For reproduction requests, interviews with the artist and general inquiries, please contact the gallery at 212-966-5154 or firstname.lastname@example.org.