© Fondation Louis Vuitton / Marc Domage © Adagp
Unlike his grimacing couples in "United Enemies" or the "Grosse Geister" characters who embody a threatening future, Thomas Schütte has created something timeless with "Mann im Matsch" (2009).
This character first appeared in 1982 as a figurine with a scale model, and only acquired its monumental proportions with the Mann im Matsch – Der 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.