The most monumental auto-creative work ever made by Gustav Metzger (catalogue of the exhibition at MAC Lyon, with numerous archive documents, newly commissioned texts and a conversation with the artist).
Auto-creative art is inseparably linked to its corollary, auto-destructive art, which Gustav Metzger defined in November 1959 in his first self-published manifesto. His work is mainly considered through the prism of auto-destruction, yet it appears as necessary to now envisage the opposite of destruction, auto-creation. From the very beginning, Metzger combined the development of theoretical thought and radical philosophy with constant artistic experiment. These two dimensions are the core of the exhibition, which, for the first time, brings together the five “historic” manifestoes published by the artist between 1959 and 1964, as well as a set of documents reflecting his ideas and his commitment to auto-creative art, which he described as follows in 1962: “In this art form, as in Auto-Destructive Art, time, space, motion, metamorphosis and sound have a different far more important role in the conception, construction and appreciation of the work […].” Never previously exhibited, these documents are presented alongside Supportive, 1966-2011, a work recently acquired by the Museum. This monumental environment made of liquid crystals is the embodiment of auto-creation, as it was elaborated by Metzger from 1959 onwards. It is the most immersive implementation of these principles to date.
Published on the occasion of Gustav Metzger's exhibition “Supportive, 1966-2011” at the Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art, from February to April 2013.
The artistic oeuvre of Gustav Metzger (1926-2017),
in which the concept of Auto-Destructive Art and the Art Strike hold a central role,
is considered as one of the most important in the 20th century.
Born in Nuremberg to Polish Jewish parents, Metzger escaped Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport, traveling to England in 1939. As a refugee in postwar Britain he became politically engaged, joining protest movements and becoming involved in direct action for nuclear disarmament. Horrified by destructive uses of technology, he moved away from his traditional training in painting and sculpture, and used creation to “confront society.”