The figural works of Thomas Schütte, and consequently the human figure and its various forms of expression, form the focal point of this exhibition. Presenting sculptures from the past thirty years inside the museum and outside in the gardens, the show brings together well-known pieces as well as works that are rarely seen in public and others that are brand new. Powerfully expressive women of steel and aluminum, mighty spirits of bronze, doll-like figurines of modeling clay, larger than life heads and figures of ceramic, wood and glass, delicate watercolor portraits, and photographs rich in contrasts—Schütte’s oeuvre testifies to a delight in radical experimentation and defies exact classification. It is this that makes him one of the most fascinating and innovative artists of the present day.
There are many points of overlap between the work of Thomas Schütte and the Fondation Beyeler, in whose collection the modern image of man, as pictured by artists such as Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon, comes so impressively to the fore. In Thomas Schütte we meet an artist who, a few generations later and in very different circumstances, explores the nature of man, the condition humaine, through the representation of figures and heads.
Thomas Schütte (b. 1954 in Oldenburg, Germany) studied at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie from 1973 to 1981, first in the class taught by Fritz Schwegler and subsequently with Gerhard Richter. In 1981, he was invited to take part in the Westkunst exhibition in Cologne and was given a solo show at Galerie Konrad Fischer. It was the start of a continuously evolving and successful international career. Major shows of recent years include exhibitions at the Haus der Kunst in Munich (2009), the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid (2010) and the Castello di Rivoli in Turin (2012). In 2005 Schütte was awarded the Golden Lion for his presentation at the Venice Biennale.