Thomas Schutte, German (1954 - )
Thomas Schütte (born November 16, 1954, Oldenburg, Germany) is a German contemporary artist. From 1973 to 1981 he studied art at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf alongside Katharina Fritsch under Gerhard Richter, Fritz Schwegler, and Benjamin Buchloh. He lives and works in Düsseldorf.
In the early 1980s Schütte began a series of small sculptural works depicting men stuck in mud. Today, Schütte's multidisciplinary work ranges widely, from early architectural installations to small-scale modeled figures and proposals for monuments, from extensive series of watercolors, to banners, flags, and photographs. From life-sized figures fabricated in ceramic as in Die Fremden (The Strangers) (1992) to miniaturised monuments cast in bronze as in Grosser Respekt (1993-94), Schütte has exploited transitions in scale and materials to great effect throughout his career. Initially exhibited at documenta IX in Kassel where they were placed on the portico of the former Roten Palais of the Landgrafen von Hessen, which currently houses a large department store, Die Fremden (The Strangers) overlooked the city.
14 Skizzen zum Projekt Großes Theater (14 Sketches for Large Theatre, 1980) comprises a series of photographs of theatrical models featuring Princess Leia action figures striking various poses in front of banner-like fragments: ‘Freedom’; ‘In the Name of the People’; ‘Pro Status Quo’ United Enemies, made between 1993 and 1997, is a series which comprises over 30 works with figures made out of Fimo modelling clay and ‘dressed’ in various fabrics and displayed under glass domes. Schütte made eighteen similar sculptures each comprising a pair of small male forms bound together with masking tape and medical sticking plaster; there are also a small number of three-figure works and a few single figures. Completed between 1995 and 2004, Schütte created seventeen different versions of his Grosse Geister (Big Spirits), each in an edition of three and each of the three in a different medium: aluminum, polished bronze or steel. No two of these works are exactly alike.
The ten Frauen (Women, 1998–2006), a sculptural series of large, reclining women (first cast in steel in 1999, and after 2000, in bronze, are a pastiche of sculptures by Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, and Pablo Picasso. The Kreuzzug Modelle series (Crusade Models, 2002–6) features architectural models made in the wake of 9/11. The almost six-metre-high bronze sculpture Mann im Matsch (Man in Mud) was installed in the artist’s hometown of Oldenburg in 2009.
From September 24, 1998 to June 18, 2000 the Dia Center for the Arts mounted a three-part survey of Schütte's work. The first, "Scenewright" (September 24, 1998 - January 24, 1999) focused on theater-related projects. "Gloria in Memoria" (February 4 - June 13, 1999) dealt with death with a somewhat morbid sense of humor, as in his memorial to Alain Colas, which pictures the famous sailor and daredevil bobbing in the water, surprised at his own death. The third installment, "In Media Res", included large ceramic heads and massive, battered bronze nudes. In 2007 he made Model for a Hotel, an architectural model of a 21-storey building made from horizontal panes of yellow, blue and red glass and weighing more than eight tonnes, for the Fourth Plinth of Trafalgar Square.
Schütte had one-man shows at venues including the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland (2003) (later travelled to the Musée de Grenoble and K21, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf); Folkwang Museum, Essen (2002); Sammlung Goetz, Munich (2001); a survey in three parts at Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1998-2000); Serralves Foundation, Portugal (1998); De Pont Foundation, Tilburg, (1998); Kunsthalle, Hamburg (1994); ARC Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1990); as well as the Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, (1990).
Schütte participated in documenta in Kassel three times; in 2005, he was awarded the Golden Lion for Best Artist at the Venice Biennial.
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