Franz Erhard Walther

24 March – 23 June 2013
Galerie der Gegenwart, 2nd floor

Franz Erhard Walther (*1939)  Zwei gelbe Kästen, 1962/63
Franz Erhard Walther, Drei Sockel. Vier Standstellen. Zwei Schreitbahnen, 1975, Sammlung Hamburger Kunsthalle Stahlblech, 3 Teile, 105 x 35 x 8 cm (2 Teile) / 70 x 35 x 8 cm (ein Teil), Photo © Elke Walford

Franz Erhard Walther's work occupies a unique position in the art of the second half of the 20th century. Using everyday materials such as paper, cotton fabrics and steel, he creates simple geometric forms that recall Minimal artworks. Walther's sculptures, however, exist in a variety of 'work states' (Werkzustände) – open or closed, resting or in use. In so-called 'work actions' (Werkhandlungen), which are performed by a designated number of people, the objects are activated by carrying out a set course of actions. Basic physical movements and actions such as standing, walking, stacking or folding thereby become an integral component of the work.

The objects therefore have a dual nature: they serve as artworks to be viewed and at the same time they are elements within interactive fields of action. In this way, Franz Erhard Walther challenges conventional artistic categories and proposes an "other concept of the work (of art)" (Walther). This innovative approach brought him international recognition early in his career: in 1969 Walther took part in a landmark group show at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, and went on to participate in four consecutive editions of the documenta in Kassel during the 1970s and 80s.

Hamburg was Franz Erhard Walther's adopted home for several decades, and his more than 34 years of teaching at the Hochschule für bildende Künste have had a significant and lasting impact on the city's art and artists. His students at the HfbK included such prominent artists as John Bock, Rebecca Horn, Martin Kippenberger, Jonathan Meese and Santiago Serra. The Hamburger Kunsthalle took a keen interest in Franz Erhard Walther's practice from a very early stage, and was therefore in a position to acquire a number of major works from the 1960s and 70s. In the exhibition, these will be shown alongside drawings, photographs and films that serve to illustrate the historical and conceptual context within which the sculptural objects were created.

Since the 1960s Franz Erhard Walther's work has been exhibited widely and internationally. The current exhibition is the latest stage in an ongoing presentation of Walther's art at the Hamburger Kunsthalle that began precisely 30 years ago. In addition to the first works by the artist that were acquired for the museum collection, the display includes pieces that have never been exhibited before. The process-oriented exhibition format clearly shows that Walther's artistic investigations have lost none of their relevance or impact.

Franz Erhard Walther will alter the presentation twice over the course of the exhibition, in order to demonstrate the different Werkzustände. These events will be open to the public and you are welcome to attend.

Curator: Luisa Pauline Fink


The 'work alterations' (Werkveränderungen) will take place on the following dates:

Sunday, 26 May 2013, 3–5 pm

The comprehensive catalogue ( German / English) will document the various stages of the exhibition and is scheduled for publication by Hatje Cantz Verlag on 23 June 2013. Pre-order now and we will send you the catalogue postage-free (Germany only) as soon as it becomes available. Includes texts by Luisa Fink, Uwe M. Schneede and others, 160 pages, 150 illustrations, € 29.80.

Supported by


  • Freunde der Kunsthalle e.V.
  • otto group

Public 'work alterations' with Franz Erhard Walther, 04.28.2013 reconstruction of the exhibition I. Franz Erhard Walther (b. 1939) Red plate with four bands, 1963 reinstalling 1963 designed work conditions cottonfabric, wood, 190 x 1.7 cm (plate), 200cm (bands) Hamburger Kunsthalle © VG Bild-Kunst,Bonn 2013 Photo: Olaf Pascheit

 
  • Öffentliche Werkveränderung mit Franz Erhard Walther, 28. 04. 2013
  • Öffentliche Werkveränderung mit Franz Erhard Walther, 28. 04. 2013
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Public 'work alterations' with Franz Erhard Walther, 04. 23. 2013 Franz Erhard Walther (b. 1939) case piece, 2 x 15, 1967, 15 crates with false bottoms (No. 22, 1 work set); reinstallation in 1967 designed work conditions, cotton fabric, each 42 x 23 x 20 cm Hamburger Kunsthalle © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013 Photo: Olaf Pascheit

 
  • Öffentliche Werkveränderung mit Franz Erhard Walther, 28. 04. 2013
  • Öffentliche Werkveränderung mit Franz Erhard Walther, 28. 04. 2013
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2. Öffentliche Werkveränderung mit Franz Erhard Walther, 26. 05.2013,Franz Erhard Walther (*1939) 96 Nesselplatten, 1963/64 Neuinstallation der 1963/64 konzipierten Werkzustände Nessel, Schaumstoff, Kaseinfarbe, Fettkreide, Dispersionsfarbe; je 20 x 20 x 2,7 cm Hamburger Kunsthalle © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2012 Photo: Piezug / Moschkowitz, Hamburg
  • 2. Öffentliche Werkveränderung mit Franz Erhard Walther, 26. 05.2013
  • 2. Öffentliche Werkveränderung mit Franz Erhard Walther, 26. 05.2013
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  • Franz Erhard Walther  (*1939)  96 Nesselplatten, 1963/64
    Franz Erhard Walther (*1939)
    96 Nesselplatten, 1963/64
  • Franz Erhard Walther  (*1939)  Rote Scheibe mit vier Bändern, 1963
    Franz Erhard Walther (*1939)
    Rote Scheibe mit vier Bändern, 1963
  • Franz Erhard Walther  (*1939)  Fallstück 2 x 15, 1967
    Franz Erhard Walther (*1939)
    Fallstück 2 x 15, 1967
  • Franz Erhard Walther (*1939) Drei Sockel. Vier Standstellen. Zwei Schreitbahnen, 1975
    Franz Erhard Walther (*1939)
    Drei Sockel. VierStandstellen. Zwei Schreitbahnen, 1975
  • Franz Erhard Walther (*1939) Drei Sockel. Vier Standstellen. Zwei Schreitbahnen, 1975
    Franz Erhard Walther (*1939)
    Drei Sockel. VierStandstellen. Zwei Schreitbahnen, 1975
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  • Franz Erhard Walther  (*1939)  Buch 2, 1969
    Franz Erhard Walther (*1939)
    Buch 2, 1969
  • Franz Erhard Walther  (*1939)  Buch 2, 1969
    Franz Erhard Walther (*1939)
    Buch 2, 1969
  •  
  • Franz Erhard Walther  (*1939)  Sieben Orte für Hamburg, 1990
    Franz Erhard Walther (*1939)
    Sieben Orte für Hamburg, 1990
  • Franz Erhard Walther  (*1939)  Aufbauvariation zu ‚Zwei ummantelte Pappen’,  1962/63
    Franz Erhard Walther (*1939)
    Aufbauvariation zu ‚Zwei ummantelte Pappen',
    1962/63
  • Franz Erhard Walther  (*1939)  Sieben Quadrate mit menschlicher Figur als  Maßvorgabe, 1971
    Franz Erhard Walther (*1939)
    Sieben Quadrate mit menschlicher Figur als
    Maßvorgabe, 1971