Franz Erhard Walther: Shifting Perspectives

Franz Erhard Walther: Shifting Perspectives

Haus der Kunst

Franz Erhard Walther, Versuch, eine Skulptur zu sein, 1958. Collection of The Franz Erhard Walther Foundation. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020. Photo: Egon Halbleib. Franz Erhard Walther Foundation Archives.

March 1, 2020
Franz Erhard Walther
Shifting Perspectives
March 6–August 2, 2020
Haus der Kunst
Prinzregentenstrasse 1
80538 Munich
Hours: Wednesday–Monday 10am–8pm,
Thursday 10am–10pm

T +49 89 21127113
Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube

Franz Erhard Walther pushed the paradigm shift towards an open concept of the work beyond the panel painting and sculpture–in particular by including the viewer as a participant.  Walter raised the elemts of body, space, place, time and language to this artistic means, using textiles and color as his vehicle.

Walther (b. 1939 in Fulda, Hesse) has always been part of the international art scene. Nevertheless, rejection and resistance have marked his career. The visionary scope of his concept of art is only now, in retrospect, becoming apparent to a broad public, as testified to by the awarding of the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2017.

Already in the early work, ideas for imaginative and processual works became apparent. The first intensely colored “Word Images,” such as museum, I Was Outside, COLLECTION and NEW YORK, already point far beyond what he had learned during his training in the typography class at the Werkkunstschule Offenbach. Conscious of his position as an outsider, Walther used these works at an early stage to formulate an astute criticism of the art industry. At the Düsseldorf Academy of Art, he was able to search for form in the formless in the free-spirited atmosphere of the class of K. O. Götz. He translated the gestural aspect of Informel painting into the gesture as action. The human power of imagination as an essential source of both action and form is one of his guiding ideas.

In his early years, Walther liberated himself from a dominant authorship in that the principle of randomness defined the pictorial composition: For this, he used coffee, vegetable oil, glue or soy sauce on paper and cardboard. Here, the processual and the action become clear as constants. Walther introduced sewing to his practice and with Four Body Shapes (1963) the body as a sculptural motif finally stands at the centre. Walther developed activation objects made of stuffed natural-colored nettle. Fabric became a driver of innovation. With the First Work Set (1963–69) comprised of 58 activatable pieces, Walther’s concept of participation experienced its breakthrough and first climax. Participation, co-determination, self-responsibility and decision-making were topics of social discourse at that time. Parallel to this, Walther initiated unusual interpersonal situations. The pieces like Proximity (No. 30) and For Two (No. 31) are characterized by a strong intimacy as a result of the constant proximity of the vis-à-vis. Gathering (No. 20) also creates a relaxed, informal sense of togetherness on a square cloth. He presented the First Work Set in 1969/70 on the occasion of the major exhibition Spaces, organised by Jennifer Licht at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, in which Dan Flavin, Robert Morris, Larry Bell and Michael Asher also participated.

Under the influence of Pop Art his textile materials became increasingly colorful and served the development of the most diverse groups of works throughout his entire oeuvre. In the hitherto little-noticed polychrome Wall Formations of the 1980s, Walther achieved an unparalleled interweaving of painting, sculpture and architecture, which continued from the Action Paths and the Configurations via The New Alphabet into the 1990s to the 2000s. The body becomes a medium by transforming life processes into images that appeal to the viewer’s imagination.The opposites of static and transitory, material and immaterial, isolated and connected, subject and object continue to preoccupy him to this day.

The core of Walther’s practice–the interrelationship of various media - is the focus of this exhibition. With 250 works and numerous drawings the retrospective at Haus der Kunst traces the development of Walther’s artistic work as a pioneer of transformative and intermedia art. In the large hall of the exhibition, daily work activations will take place in cooperation with the Munich-based initiative TanzQuelle.

Curated by Jana Baumann
Curatorial Assistant Julia Heldt

An exhibition in collaboration with the Franz Erhard Walther Foundation

Read more on Haus der Kunst’s new blog: Stretch your view!


RSVP for Franz Erhard Walther: Shifting Perspectives
Haus der Kunst
March 1, 2020

Thank you for your RSVP.

Haus der Kunst will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.