West Ways

Rita McBrideMatthew Licht


Book, 11.5 x 17.8 cm, 92 p, language: English, publisher: Vancouver/Beverly Hills/Zürich: Emily Carr University Press/Potter Press/Christoph Keller Editions by JRP Ringier Kunstverlag AG, ISBN: 978-3037641354.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2024/830).

Literary synopsis

Westways is the fifth in American sculptor Rita McBride's continuing Ways series of collaborative novels -this time with writer and rock climber Matthew Licht. We follow Mae West from her Brooklyn childhood through her adventures with W.C. Fields to a Sapphic encounter with Leni Riefenstahl on a safari in the 1970s, picking up a fighter pilot, Salvador Dalí and Billy Wilder for the ride.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

The novel Westways was published to coincide with the completion of McBride's 52 meter-high Mae West public commission at Munich's Effnerplatz (the biggest sculpture in public space in Europe). When Rita McBride won the Munich public competition, her project was simply called Tower, but eventually she decided to call it Mae West because the actress had a comic and humoristic side, but at the same time she was a strong, modern woman. The 1.5 million euro competition was awarded to McBride in 2002 and has endured 8 years of public deliberation, political attack, and financial duress. In an attempt to keep the project visible and financially feasible throughout this absurdly long public process, she has continually produced works pertinent to the light weight 52 meter-high structure made of carbon. Items such as Mae West tapestries made in Mexico, a set of large steel templates to make your own Mae West, Mae West prints, Mae West survival kits consisting of a life vest of carbon (Mae West was slang for life vests in WWII), a commissioned celebrity fictional biography by Matthew Licht, a pin up, a bottle of alcohol, and a smaller tin set of templates - all placed in a metal tool case, Mae West posters, a propaganda video, as well as commissioned paintings of Mae West in paradise by Glen Rubsamen represent just a sampling of the varied production that has been assembled to date.

Novel's website

Authorship: Ghost Writer.

Creative Strategy: Novel Cites Artworks.

Genre: Adventures, Biography.

Publishing: Art Books Publishing House.

Theme: Art World.

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