The catalogue of Metzger's first extensive overview: divided into sections—each of which is accompanied by a critical text—corresponding to those presented in the exhibition, the publication provides systematic insight into an artistic oeuvre considered as one of the most important in the 20th century (with texts by Mathieu Copeland, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Yoko Ono, Hermann Nitsch…).
If the retrospective, which started at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Torun before travelling to Oslo, was presented in distinctively different formats—the former providing audiences with a wide overview of Metzger's career and works, including attention to his early years of political activism and engagement and concomitant radicalization, and the latter focusing upon deeper researched aspects of the artist's production,—the exhibition catalogue provides readers with a rich array of theoretical contributions, including a conversation between Dobrila Denegri and Yoko Ono, Ivor Davies, Hermann Nitsch and Jon Hendricks, as well as Metzger's own writings.
The contributors Pontus Kyander, Andrew Wilson, Mathieu Copeland, Dobrila Denegri, Leanne Dmyterko, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Manuel Olveira take up different aspects of Metzger's work, from the artist's early political activism, to his experimentation with painting to his drafting of the manifestoes for Auto-Destructive Art, providing us with an invaluable and much awaited document for consultation in contemporary art.
Published following the eponymous exhibition at Centre of Contemporary Art in Torun, Poland, from November 8, 2015, to January 17, 2016, and the joint exhibition “Gustav Metzger in Oslo – Extremes Touch and Liquid Crystal Environment” at Kunsthall Oslo and Stiftelsen Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, from November 14, 2015 to January 31st, 2016.
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.”