Franz West

Austrian artist, whose first European retrospective opened at the beginning of the year

While the Los Angeles Times’s Christopher Knight may affectionately portray Franz West as ‘Benny Hill with brains’, he remains one of the most influential artists of our times. For critic Peter Schjeldahl, West’s exploration of audience interaction in his work of the 1970s and 80s ‘anticipated – and considerably outshines – the recent vogue for “relational aesthetics”’, while artists such as Rachel Harrison, Sarah Lucas and Paul McCarthy are quick to acknowledge the Austrian’s influence.

At the beginning of the year, West’s first European retrospective opened at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, before going on to Naples and Graz. By the end of it he’d also racked up solo shows at Almine Rech in Brussels and Gagosian in Rome as well as producing a new work for the Liverpool Biennial and the Hayward Gallery’s New Décor summer show.