The Swiss artist André Thomkins (1930–1985) ranks among the most extraordinary artistic positions of the postwar era.
Living in Germany since 1952, he creates – blessed with an exuberant inventiveness and the juvenile wish to become an “architect for fantastic buildings” – an oeuvre that in its diversity resists art-historical classification. Inspired by Surrealism, DADA and Pittura Metafisica, by artists such as Paul Klee, Max Ernst or Marcel Duchamp, he produces quite traditionally paintings, innumerable drawings and watercolours, but besides objects made of everyday trouvailles such as rubber bands, buttons, newspaper cuttings and food. In addition, starting in the mid-1950s, Thomkins develops his own artistic techniques with the so-called “Lackskins”, “Rollagen” and “Scharnieren”, placing him close to contemporary Art Informel and Abstract Expressionism. Essential component of the work of Thomkins, who describes himself in an anagram of his name as “Denkharmonist” (“thought harmonist”), are the linguistic art works and a playful handling of language in general, which characterises not least his work titles often humorous by association. Thomkins disposed of a network of close friends, including Dieter Roth, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, Bernhard Luginbühl and Robert Filliou; artistic collaborations or exhibitions were the result, such as the legendary “Fruend Friends Freunde und Freunde” in 1969, featuring besides Roth, Spoerri, Gerstner and Thomkins their “Friends and friends of the friends” in Bern and Düsseldorf.