The Artist and his Universe

By Dr Philipp Herzog von Württemberg. Vice Chairman, Europe Sotheby’s.
In Sotheby’s Preview

With his article « The Artist and his Universe », Philipp Württemberg introduces the readers of Sotheby’s magazine Preview (January issue) to « the eclectic and iconoclastic work of Julien Friedler« . He writes about the course and the influences of the artist, the Book of Boz and « Around the Boz in 80 Years« .

« It is not easy to draw Julien Friedler’s portrait in a few words. A complex, intellectual, creative mind, and artist and writer, a psychoanalyst, ethnologist and philosopher, he has created a rich body of works. Deploying highly diverse media from paintings and sculpture to installations and photography, Friedler has exhibited works all over Europe, culminating in his current project, an entire imaginary universe entitled The Spirit of Boz.
This project has two elements : the first, a 600-page book The Book of Boz, which features a complex discussion between three clowns and their epic metaphysical journey. Visual works interact within the book, transforming it so that, as Friedler says, ‘it consists of many things you can’t see of feel, which are important for our entire history and development.’ To my questions of where the title ‘BOZ’ originates, he answers : ‘I do not know. The principle idea is that different thoughts can construct a greater ‘BOZ World’ across cultural borders, languages, religions and creeds.’
Involvement is an essential aspect of Friedler’s artistic world. Everyone is invited to participate at, not to simply add comments, but to interact. Friedler recently enlarged his world with a vast collective project based on responses from across the world to six questions, offering insight, in the words of the artist, into ‘the soul of the world’. Printed copies of the questionnaires will be sealed, 500 at a time, into metal boxes, which, when stacked in columns of ten, will create a ‘forest of souls’.
With an 80-year lifespan, this ambitious project will no doubt develop other, currently unforeseen, initiatives, expanding and adapting Friedler’s universe. The artist has created a foundation – Friedler for Contemporary Art – to supervise its conclusion, preserving all works of arts created around the World of Boz. The foundation will organise exhibitions, promote artistic research and, working on Marcel Duchamp’s theory that « all is art’, follow the objective to accept all works by both artists and non-artists.
The art of Duchamp, Wassily Kandinsky, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Joseph Beuys have inspired The Spirit of Boz as they are the works that Friedler has in his own collection. In taking these influences and combining his own particular vision, Julien Friedler is indeed an artistic entrepreneur. »