Thomas Schütte - Carte Blanche New York Sunday, November 7, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Collection Shroder, Germany; Private collection, New York

  • Exhibited

    Hamburg, Produzentengalerie, Thomas Schütte: Alte Freunde – Neue Arbeiten (Old Friends – New Works), September 20 – October 30, 1993 (illustrated); Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Thomas Schütte: Figur, May 6 – June 26, 1994; and Stuttgart, Wurttembergischer, September 3-October 16, 1994, pp. 56 – 57 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Old Friends presents an unsettling group of twelve photographic portraits of small figures, their heads sculpted by the artist in colored FIMO, a modeling compound sold in toy shops. 
    The characters portrayed in Old Friends are men in their later years. The contorted, hairless heads and deeply incised features betray the artist’s interest in the expressive potential of physiognomy and the study of human emotions. In their features, one can easily read anger, grief, shrewdness, mutual distrust or pompous selfimportance, perhaps evoking a group of ageing statesmen making public appearances. Their exaggerated, caricatured expressions are eerily reminiscent of the grotesque medieval gargoyles. They also bring to mind the remarkable character heads of the 18th-century German-Austrian sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736 – 83) and the 19th-century French artist Honor・Daumier (1808 –1879). 
    Old Friends relate to other miniature sculptures such as United Enemies and Innocenti and their corresponding photographic images. These FIMO-modeled figures dressed in scraps of fabric were first conceived in 1992, the year Sch・te stayed in Rome having been awarded a grant to live and work there. He was looking at classical sculpture and was fascinated by the portrait busts of the Roman Emperors housed in the Capitoline Museum. It was also the year of political upheaval in Italy when social commentary and satire was rife and abundant and on everyone’s lips. The artist explained:
    “I was [in Rome] in 1992, the year there was this peaceful revolution in Italy where the heads of State and a lot of prominent people were being exposed and discredited and sent to jail. So the caricature and the satire was a reality… The first big set of [United Enemies] was made in Rome. They are just sticks with a head on top and another stick that builds the shoulders. I used my own clothes to wrap them in and form the body. For me they were puppets and not related to classical art…I disciplined myself to modeling each head for one hour only. They have no hair, so the face is more concentrated, more general, because hair always suggests a particular period.” (Conversation between James Lingwood and the artist, quoted in Julian Heynen, James Lingwood, Angela Vettese, Thomas Schütte, London 1998, p. 29)


Old Friends

Conceived in 1992; printed in 1993
Twelve color photographs.
23 5/8 x 19 1/8 in. (60 x 48.6 cm) each (unframed); 33 1/2 x 28 1/2 in. (85.1 x 72.4 cm) each (framed).
Each signed, titled with the character’s name, numbered of 3 and dated ‘Th. Schutte 1993 "’ (on the reverse).  This work is from an edition of 3.

$350,000 - 450,000 

Sold for $962,500

Carte Blanche

8 November 2010  6pm
New York