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Thomas Schütte


February 17 – May 17, 2010
Sabatini Building, Room 103, Protocol Room, Espacio 1, Sabatini Garden and Hallways

This exhibition, entitled Retrospección (Hindsight) in reference to the collective vision in the career of Thomas Schütte (Oldenburg, Germany, 1954), spans thirty years and represents his permanent investigations through a critical dialogue with art of the past. Schütte's powerful aesthetics are based on advancing by looking back, subverting the previous modes of his own creation or borrowing from other cultures and other times.

Schütte's work ranges from architecture, decoration and sculpture to public statues, installations and drawing. Although he is more commonly known as a sculptor, his early career is defined by his pictorial work. In 1975 he is educated by Gerhard Richter, inheriting his critical stance on avant-garde painting, whilst also taking on board ideas for subverting conventional pictorial models by some of Richter's colleagues, for instance Daniel Buren and Blinky Palermo. His wallpaper and frieze pieces, produced in this period, offer a reflection on the ephemeral nature of art. Schütte soon turns his attentions to the functional, creating scale models of architecture - conceptual constructions more than projects for real buildings that encompass a broad spectrum of typologies: tribunes, villas, 'bird hotels', together with public spaces that evoke more oppressive and controlling environments. His scale models are architectural sculptures designed for transience, although he does subsequently build one of the houses on a full scale.

In the turbulent Germany of the Seventies and Eighties, Schütte brings the individual and collective identity crisis closer together, along with the repercussions of the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. Various pieces allude to the destruction of the statues of important political figures and fallen idols, something that shifts his current output towards a critical vision of public sculpture in terms of banks and institutions, a clash of ideologies between those that finance them and the powers that be.

Schütte's interests lie equally between tradition and transformation; past art is a constant source of inspiration. In the Nineties he becomes submerged in Roman sculpture practices and canonical genres, and from this period on his large monumental heads emerge, such as Dirty Dictators, or the extensive series of reclining female figures Die Frauen (Women, 1998-2006), made in bronze, steel and aluminium. Schütte also uses art as a route of exploration and cross-examination through looking at traditional genres of sculpture. The results are far from conventional.

Exhibition´s details

Organized by: 
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Lynne Cooke


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