Thomas Schütte: Model Figures

Model for a Hotel, recently installed in London’s Trafalgar Square, and a major exhibition at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds have generated significant interest in Thomas Schütte, one of Germany’s pre-eminent artists. Meeting him after the official launch of Model for a Hotel, I found him exhausted by his four-year commitment to the project, clearly finding the intensified media interest in his work unwelcome. “I feel empty inside,” he said. “I can’t just push the buttons and spit out words. I’m not that kind of artist.” A reluctant and elusive commentator, Schütte has always expressed an inherent dualism in his approach—perhaps the need to remain in opposition to prevailing forces provides a necessary stimulus for his work. He uses a wide spectrum of colors and materials to challenge the fundamental constituents of life, and his work encompasses installation, sculpture, models, painting, and drawing. Through these modes of representation, he presents a strange hybrid of visual expression, often creating contradictory and illusory worlds, without ever losing sight of the socio-political status quo.