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Heinz Frank, Viennese Artist with a Late-Career Rise to Fame in Europe, Has Died at 81

Heinz Frank, who is best known for his ineffable installations of madcap sculptures, objects, and furnishings, died at age 81 in Vienna on Sunday. The artist’s gallery, LambdaLambdaLambda, confirmed the news.

The last sculpture realized during Frank’s life currently figures in the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Latvia, and his work was exhibited last year at various international institutions, including the Badischer Kunstverein in Germany, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Kunsthalle Vienna. Throughout his career, the artist’s multifarious practice spanned installation, sculpture, painting, furniture design, and more.

Born in Vienna in 1939, Frank worked as an electrical engineer until 1965, when he enrolled at the city’s Academy of Fine Arts to study architecture. He dedicated much of his work to spirited explorations of design, architecture, and objects’ relationships to one another.

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An installation by Frank on view at the Kunsthalle Vienna in 2019 featured an arrangement of mirrors and vertically-oriented sculptures situated atop a vibrantly patterned rug. At the Badischer Kunstverein, the artist showed, among other works, a cluster of chairs, tables, and abstracted structures piled high on a wooden platform.

The artist’s installations typically included numerous disparate components, including masks, rocks, found objects, furniture, sculptures, paintings, and more. Writing was also central to Frank’s practice, and his poems written on paper often figured in his installations as a mode of interpreting the many objects therein.

Though his work did not achieve wide acclaim or recognition until recent years, Frank had been a key figure in Vienna’s art scene since the 1960s. He had some of his earliest solo exhibitions in the 1970s at the city’s Galerie Hubert Winter and Galerie Löcker & Wögenstein, and in 1986 he received the city’s Award for Sculpture.

Frank’s pieces can be found in the collections of the Centre Pompidou, the Museum of Modern Art Vienna, the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna, the Rupertinum in Salzburg, and elsewhere. He is survived by his daughter, Lilli Breuer-Guttmann, and his granddaughter.

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