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 Thomas Schuette  (1954 - )

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Lived/Active: Germany      Known for: Conceptual sculpture, installation, drawing, photographs

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BIOGRAPHY for Thomas Schuette
1954 (Oldenburg, Germany)

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Conceptual sculpture, installation, drawing, photographs

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

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 and Fritz Schwegler. 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 miniaturized monuments cast in bronze as in Grosser Respekt (1993-94), Schütte has exploited transitions in scale and materials to great effect throughout his career. 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. Mostly, the works in this series consist of a pair of figures bound together; there are also a small number of three-figure works and a few single figures.

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 for the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square.

Schütte had one-man shows at venues including the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland (2003) (later traveled 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.

Schütte's work is held in the collections of the Tate, MoMA and the Art Institute of Chicago.


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Following is descriptive text from the 1998 monograph and exhibition publication, Thomas Schutte, by Julian Heynen, Director of Exhibitions at the Krefeld Art Museums; James Lingwood, curator of Schutte's first survey exhibition in Britain; and Angela Vettese, Professor of Art History at the Carrera Academy in Bergamo, Italy. The book is described as the "only major English language monograph on one of Germany's most important contemporary sculptors."

German artist Thomas Schutte (b.1954) makes sculptures that range from giant cherries to miniature castles, manipulating size and materials like a master juggler. His bizarre worlds of shifting scale create a universe replete with food and shelter yet full of false promise: bronze potatoes; a museum that incinerates art; or his very own 'audience' of metal-clad robots.

Thomas Schütte is concerned with models for living, rules for making art and, in turn, the failed flights of these systems and aspirations. Schütte'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.

Schütte'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.

Schütte'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 accompanied the first major survey of Schütte's work in Britain (Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1998)

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