Kunst Museum Winterthur

Franz Erhard Walther

Curator: Konrad Bitterli

3 June - 3 December 2023

The German artist Franz Erhard Walther is one of the key figures of a concept of art based on participation. Born in Fulda in 1939, his work in the postwar years began with Informel painting: “Piece by piece I understood that the term ‘Informel’ only made sense if one related that to the absence of the concept of composition. I connected the absence of form with the concept of action and […] developed material process works. So I transferred, so to speak, the painting process of Informel into a material process.” In the final analysis, this leads to works in which the exhibition visitors overcome the passive role of the viewer and actively involve themselves in the work, as in the famous 1. Werksatz (1st set of works) from 1963 to 1969. These are objects made of cotton fabrics, wood, and various other materials. One is invited to use them, to unfold them or to put them over oneself. Für den Körper für den Kopf (For the Body for the Head) from 1986 also belongs to a group of works, the so-called Wandformationen (wall formations), in which the artist aims at an interweaving of painting, sculpture and architecture that characterizes his work to this day.
Walther’s work has been rediscovered in recent years and has been featured in major exhibitions, including those at the Museé d’art moderne et contemporain in Geneva in 2010, the Städel in Frankfurt in 2014, and the Haus der Kunst in Munich in 2020.
Thanks to the extensive permanent loan from the Kienzle Art Foundation, Berlin, the Kunst Museum Winterthur can now offer a comprehensive insight into the work of this pioneering artist, with a special focus on his early painting.