Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland Thomas Schütte – Big Buildings – Models and Views 1980 – 2010 15.07.10 – 01.11.10 The avant-garde concierge Admittedly, the artist’s photo in the voluminous catalogue reminds one more of a melancholic concierge than of Thomas Schütte, or of that which one would like to imagine as a German avant-garde artist who has been hugely successful for many years: a blue blouson, a small-checked shirt, in the background foliage plants on the windowsill, a sloppy parting and, as the crowning touch, a pose emulating a Rodin’s “Thinker”. However, he who enters the huge rooms of Bonn’s Federal Art Gallery comes face to face with an artist who, in many respects (amongst others) approaches his work on the basis of “think big”, and who must also be a top class aesthetic trapper and trap-builder. A short while ago, Thomas Schütte, who was born in Oldenburg in 1954 and who studied under Gerhard Richter and Fritz Schwegler in Düsseldorf’s Academy of Fine Arts in the 70’s, was awarded the Düsseldorf Kunstpreis. From Kassel, via Venice to New York, the exhibition catalogue leaves out little. Recently, it was shown in the House of Art in Munich and in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. In Bonn, a brilliant show of his works are exhibited under the title “Big Buildings – Models and Views 1980-2010” which begins in a small way with the doll-sized, roughly patinated bronze “Man in the Mud” and ends in a large way with a completely different 5.80-meter high version of “Man in the Mud”. However, this last shows a monster in Styrofoam and plaster, a vacuous seeker with a divining rod in front of his breast and the mud, which embeds him only beginning just below the knee. It is clear that someone has caliber here and is capable of pulling the carpet out from under one’s feet. The adjunct “oddly familiar” is more applicable here than to any other artist – the title of a Düsseldorf exhibition in 2004. Right from the beginning, Schütte’s theme is characterized by the work with architectonic models, often entire constructions in which small figures are poised: sometimes Schütte’s little house will even be represented as being occupied on a 1:1 basis. On the other hand, the play is a traverse between small and large, between model and realization, the whole work between art as a model and model as art. Schütte once said: “Just look out of the window and tinker with what you see outside”. Schütte is both a mixture of a conservative-to-kitschy hobbyist with, on the other side, a highly cynically filtered and genially alienated eye for the truth – a moralist and privy builder of a particular kind. Whether a “German petrol station”, a Bauhaus-like construction of yellow building components and tinted acrylic glass, is fashioned, or a “mountain” made of gaunt synthetic rock, deceptively authentically modeled with a Caspar David Friedrich cross on the top and a tunneled way through underneath with “One Way Ticket”: because there is no exit at the back of the mountain. Or the unimaginatively copied parking garage – all this is oddly familiar and, if nothing else, a thought-out model. Because the watercolor painting “Not so loud, we’re building here!” (2006), which depicts an exclamation mark, is meant as a thinking process and as nothing else. In all, 60 works by Schütte are on display, above all architectural models and views, as well as walk-in spatial installations, amongst which those bunker models in celebration of the NATO Double-Track Decision or a gravestone with practical waiting room at the back. One is completely taken by a huge walk-in “Holiday Home for Terrorists”, a “Model for a Hotel” or the "One Man House" –constructions made of steel girders, Plexiglas or pressed boards. Everything is useful but completely useless for survival, whereby Schütte goes right to the fundament of a mentally homeless society. At the same time, Schütte asks: Are you still living or are you already alive? Chimney and vent are never lacking in his models or his graphics, which address the phenomena “Museum”: so that the art may be cleanly burnt. By Roland Groß Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 53113 Bonn, Museumsmeile Bonn Friedrich-Bert-Allee 4 Tel.: (0228) 9171 -0 email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.bundeskunsthalle.de Openings hours: Tue, Wed, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Thu – Sun 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.