Austrian artist Franz West dies aged 65

Franz West West exhibited at the Liverpool Biennial in 2010

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Austrian contemporary artist Franz West has died aged 65 in Vienna, after a long illness.

He has been described as "one of the most innovative and progressive artists of his generation".

Sculptor West studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and worked with various materials including plaster, paper-mache and wire.

In 2011 he was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in recognition for his life's work.

A joint statement from the Franz West Foundation, Gagosian Gallery, Galerie Meyer Kainer and Galerie Eva Presenhuber said West "charmed, influenced and inspired his contemporaries, students and followers and all those who encountered him".

"His sculptural sensibility culminated in the physical engagement of the onlooker with his sculpture making him become part of the work," it added.

West began his career in the mid-1960s amid a local art movement called Actionism, in which artists engaged in displays of wild public behaviour.

West's sculptures and collages were seen as a reaction to his contemporaries.

He also worked with large scale aluminium sculptures and made furniture, making brightly coloured upholstering for couches and chairs.

West was married to Georgian artist Tamuna Sirbiladze.

"The world has lost a great artist who changed the way people looked at art and themselves," continued the joint statement. "His great sense of originality and his generosity with other artists, writers and musicians will be missed by us all.

"Our thoughts are with his family, colleagues and friends on this very sad day."

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