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

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Nelson, Paris

  • Catalogue Essay

    Standing at just over eight feet tall, Thomas Schutte’s Grosse Geister are literally very Big Spirits. They can be described as ghostly, colossal, fluid, and monstrous — boldly striking yet wrapped in unexpected contradictions and tensions. The figures are, without a doubt, both monumental and imposing, yet they possess a surprising lightness and subliminal humor. They are suggestive — of what, we cannot be exactly sure. Their movements are distinctly human yet there is also something unreal and mechanized about them. They are part otherworldly, part playful fantasy and wholly ambiguous, just as Schutte intended.
    These oversized figures are very evocative of both the artist’s process and his objective. Though Schutte was trained as a painter in 1970s Dusseldorf where conceptualism and minimalism were at the forefront of artistic theory, he has always been interested in exploring the emotional presence of the art object. His mature style has distanced itself from his original training, each new series developing from an examination and intentional contradiction of the prior one. What remains constant though, throughout all of his work, is a keen interest in the human condition and an exploration of its physicality. The combination of these two elements brings power, tension and dark humor into his work.
    Schutte’s Grosse Geister came to life through the formation and molding of long strands of wax which were then cast. Between 1995 and 2004, he created seventeen different versions of these Big Spirits, each in an edition of three and each of the three in a different medium: aluminum, polished bronze or steel. No two of these works are exactly alike.
    Grosse Geist No. 16 is cast in aluminum and one of the most intricate sculptures from this series. He (we assume that these figures are male) leans slightly backwards with one arm extended sideways and the other raised in front of him, as if momentarily startled by the viewer. Considering the monumentality of these works, we would expect them to appear far more rigid. Instead, speaking highly to the artist’s skill, they seem very elastic and prepared to continue moving around the space, transforming as soon as the viewer looks away. Though these figures have affectionately been referred to as Unwesentlichkeit (non-beings), they are the result of a very close and astute observation of human motions and gestures. When combined with the highly reflective and fluid surface of the aluminum, the figures take on an ethereal, almost transparent quality. The blending of all of these contradictory elements results in these highly unconventional and somewhat mischievous sculptures. Whether perturbed or transfixed by the Grosse Geister, it is difficult not to love them.


Grosse Geist No.16

Executed in 2000
Cast aluminum.
98 1/2 x 39 1/2 x 59 in. (250.2 x 100.3 x 149.9 cm).
Engraved with signature and date ‘SCHUTTE 2000’ (on the heel of the right foot). This work is one of three casts: one in aluminum, one in steel and one in polished bronze.

$1,000,000 - 1,500,000 

Sold for $4,114,500

Carte Blanche

8 November 2010  6pm
New York