This is the first time the Düsseldorf-based artist has shown new work on such a monumental scale since his show at the gallery in 2012.
Schütte works across various mediums to explore themes of cultural memory, existential struggle, and the human striving for an impossible utopian ideal. His mastery of gesture, material, and shifts in scale are evident throughout his oeuvre, regardless of the medium he chooses.
In the current exhibition, a series of new bronzes in four different scales explore new iterations of one of Schütte’s key images, the Mann im Matsch [Man in Mud]. The smallest of these new works to be on view is only some inches tall, and the largest are three individual bronze figures, each of these about 12 feet tall. These largest works introduce a new subject, Man in the Wind, but reference Man in Mud, the subject of which was Schütte’s first figurative work (1982/1983). That image originated with a small plastic toy that Schütte chose to cast in a box up to its knees to prevent it from continually falling over. This technical solution lead to a deeply effective and metaphoric image. The figurine was transformed into a representation of a wanderer stuck in a trackless terrain while attempting to fulfill an unknown assignment. Schütte sees this figure, which is held in by its own material and is thus incapable of moving forward, as a sort of allegory to the failure of the modern fixation on history’s constant progress.