Franz West lived and worked in Vienna, where he was born in 1947. He began his career in mid 1960s, when the local movement "Actionism" was in full swing. West's earliest sculptures, performances, and collages were a reaction to this movement, in which artists engaged in displays of radical public behavior and physical endurance meant to shake up art-world passivity. In the early 1970s, West began making a series of small, portable sculptures called "Adaptives", awkward-looking plaster objects that were only completed as artworks when the viewer picked them up and carried them around, or performed some other inherently slapstick action with them. In many ways, his large-scale aluminum sculptures are simply overgrown versions of the "Adaptives." But they also relate directly to his installations, where he makes furniture.
Franz West has exhibited internationally for more than three decades in galleries and museums, and at major festivals including Documenta IX (1992) and X (1997) in Kassel; and the Venice Biennale (1988, 1993, 1997, 2003). More recently, West's work has been exhibited at the Whitechapel Gallery in London (2003), the Gagosian Gallery in New York (2003) and the Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Zurich (2006), among others.