German artist Thomas Schutte (b.1954) is concerned with models for living, rules for making art and, in turn, the failed flights of these systems and aspirations. Schutte's art looks utilitarian - offering shelter, sustenance and companionship - but delivers false promises and alien worlds such as his museum that incinerates art, potatoes made of bronze and the artist's vision of humanity as tiny wooden audiences, two-headed hybrids or giant robotic figures. Schutte's sculptures vary in scale from giant candy-coloured fruits to miniature fairy-tale buildings. The artist manipulates size, materials and subject matter with astounding versatility and dexterity, perpetually shifting scales so that the viewer is immersed in a series of poetic yet dysfunctional utopias. He has also constructed a series of architectural models of institutions and monuments whose eclectic array of building typologies suggest de Chirico-like metaphysical spaces. Schutte's sculptures, installations, photographs and watercolours have been exhibited in museums and galleries as well as in public commissions throughout Europe and America.
This book, which accompanied the first major survey of Schutte's work in Britain (Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1998) remains the essential monograph on the work of this enigmatic and extraordinary artist. Julian Heynen, Director of Exhibitions at the Krefeld Art Museums, who curated Schutte's first museum exhibition in 1986, charts a topography of media and subject matter in the artist's work. James Lingwood, Co-Director of Artangel, London, and curator of the 1998 Schutte survey at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, speaks with the artist about the development of his practice and his relationship to European sculptural traditions in a German context. Italian art critic and curator Angela Vettese focuses on the artist's contribution to the 1997 Skulptur Projekte in Munster, Kirschensaule (Cherry Column). Schutte has selected a passage by the Roman philosopher and statesman Seneca from 'De Vita Beata' on the paths of happiness. The artist's own writings are represented by a bedtime story, a fantastical allegory of the art world and its unexpected sequel.
Publisher: Phaidon Press Ltd