This month, the pristine floors Gagosian’s New York gallery on Madison Avenue have been carpeted over with the Pepto-pink carpet courtesy of curator and director Ealan Wingate for a new exhibition dedicated to the furniture of late Viennese artist Franz West. Originally created by West for the Albertina museum, the rug is a visual embodiment of a Viennese idiom for idiot, “a monkey butt with ears.” It is this inside joke that sets the stage perfectly for West’s collection of comfortable high-backed couches and candy-colored seats.
Unlike most exhibitions at the white-cube space, visitors are encouraged to lounge and touch the art. Covered in natural linen, pieces like West’s “Trog” or “Pouf” provide a tempting place to flip through the gallery’s countless catalogues. “He was a very good friend—I was the first person to show him in the states,” says Wingate. “You feel his sense of comfort in the room. It’s like what people say about pieces of music—it keeps the composer alive.”