Thomas Schütte

(b. 1954)

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(1954– )

German sculptor and painter, born in Oldenburg. He studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. Early in his career he worked as both a painter and a sculptor but he concentrated on sculpture for health reasons after 1989: a few years earlier he had suffered a breakdown, partly as the result of poisoning by lacquer paint. His last paintings were a series of mock banners including images such as a crowned potato and outsize musical notes. One aspect of his work deals with the distorted figure. United Enemies (1993) are a series of sculptures presented under glass jars in which antagonistic figures are bound together. In the context of the period in which they were produced it is hardly surprising that they have been interpreted as commenting on the reunification of Germany. He has also made sculpture of buildings. Casino (1990) is a castle and it has an almost fairy-tale quality. This is, however, undermined by the title. Schütte explained that this was a reference to the similarity of the image to the 50 Deutschmark note and to the drawings strewn underneath, which looked like casino chips on baize. If one side of Schütte's activity has been making the monumental small, he has also moved in the other direction. He said in an interview in 1990 that he admired the Minimalist artists of the 1970s because they ‘address the fundamental problems—of lighting, material, meaning, and space’. In 1987, as part of the Münster Sculpture Project, he showed a giant sculpture of cherries in a square. Such work is reminiscent of Claes Oldenburg. Schütte is concerned with the end of commonly shared ideals of Utopia. ‘Everyone’, he says, ‘is a realist, everybody is pragmatic, especially in the art world.’

Further Reading

I. Blazwick, J. Lingwood, and A. Schlieker, Possible Worlds (1990)

Subjects: Art.

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