Mann im Matsch

  • 2009
  • Thomas Schütte
  • Styrofoam, plaster and wood
  • 5.8 x 8.5 x 8.5 m
This character first appeared in 1982 as a figurine with a scale model, and only acquired its monumental proportions with the Mann im MatschDer Suchende commission in 2009, for the front of the Sparkasse in Oldenburg, the artist’s home town. This is a full-scale version of that sculpture. The piece partly has its origins in September Notes (1989), a series of watercolours. In them, Schütte inserts the neologism “mudern”, a combination of “mud” and “modern”, alongside a man, his feet in mud, a possible allegory of the quagmire of modernity and the failure of utopias. Initially portrayed as an older, expressive figure, the man has gradually become younger and more impassive as the project has progressed. In his latest piece, the artist has placed a dowsing rod in his hands, giving him the power of divining and inversing the significance of the sculpture. Begun as a monument to the alienation of modern man, it now resembles the potential to overcome obstacles, reflecting the artist’s insatiable desire to explore, just like this young diviner on his quest.

© Adagp, Paris, 2014. Photographie © Fondation Louis Vuitton / Marc Domage

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Thomas Schütte

Thomas Schütte creates many different types of work in his personal and uncategorisable “repertoire”, in the theatrical sense. Influenced by the teaching of Gerhard Richter, he moved away from the dominant minimal and conceptual forms to find an original way of translating his thoughts on representing the power and social responsibility of art in architectural models designed to be “models for thinking”.

The idea of the monument is central. In the 1980s, to indicate the scale of his models and installations, he began incorporating figures, which are indissociable from this political investment in space. The use of traditional techniques and materials such as clay, wax, ceramic, steel and bronze is accompanied by a re-examination of classical figurative themes: female nudes, standing figures. Schütte’s work takes on a more peaceful expression in his engravings, watercolours of flowers and portraits, some very personal. The questioning of scale, which stems from the monument, remains in his representation of people, who are larger than life, distant and self-absorbed.

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