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me Collectors Room Berlin offers a probing insight into the works by Thomas Schütte
Schöne Grüße Thomas Schütte, Installationsansicht im me Collectors Room, 2013 © Thomas Schütte, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013,Foto Bernd Borchardt.

BERLIN.- The new exhibition at me Collectors Room Berlin / Olbricht Foundation, ‘Schöne Grüsse Thomas Schütte’, presents from 14 September 2013 a probing insight into the works by Thomas Schütte that feature in the Olbricht Collection.

Schütte is widely considered one of the most important sculptors in Germany. In addition to sculpture, his oeuvre also includes numerous prints, and it is these that form the focus of this exhibition, with over 200 works on paper on display, juxtaposed by several sculptures. The timespan of works featured ranges from the 1980s to the year 2013. All works on display belong in the collection of Thomas Olbricht, who has been a constant collector of Schütte’s art since 1999 and who recently presented Ganz Grosse Geister (Big Spirits, 1998-2004) as a permanent loan to the city of Essen, where it is now installed behind the philharmonic hall.

The prints are an important part of Schütte’s oeuvre. According to Ulrich Loock, they should not be viewed as wholly separate from Schütte’s work in other media, his drawings, photographs, sculptural and architectural works. In many cases, the subjects depicted in those media flow, without significant revision, directly into his prints, where they always assume a form of their own. Schütte thus contradicts the belief that printmaking is a secondary art form. For him, printmaking is a significant artistic practice on a par with the other art forms that he masters and one which, in many ways, exceeds them. Reinforcing this point, it is striking that, with just one exception, all prints date from a concentrated timespan of five or six years. The most important works in this regard are the two major portfolios Wattwanderung (Low Tide Wandering, 2001) and Quengelware (2002), as well as several suites of etchings in book format, such as Volume II (2005) or Sweet Nothings (2007). In 2011, however, Schütte published another portfolio containing nine large-scale woodcuts entitled Woodcuts, which were previously only on view in New York and Paris.

It is particularly worth noting that on the level of artistic conception, printmaking is a reproduction technique requiring artistry and, most crucially, manual skill, a point which emphasizes the artist’s joy of materiality and his passion for working with his hands in an age of all things digital. In an interview with Ulrich Loock, Thomas Schütte said the following of his work: ‘You’ve got to just make it, with your hands and body. Your body will tell you when it’s good. Just three seconds of little video images, a darkened room, and the smell of musty carpet and I have to get out… I just get up and go because the virtual does not interest me at all. A scratch in a copperplate, a fingerprint in clay, or burnt polystyrene: that’s what I like. Precisely the kind of things that were forbidden in our college days: the artist’s mark, finger, body, something individual.’ (Frieze d/e no. 8, February/March 2013)

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