On September 24, 1998, Dia Center for the Arts will open an exhibition of the work of German artist Thomas Schütte. This exhibition, entitled "Scenewright," will be on view on the fourth floor of Dia's galleries at 548 West 22nd Street, New York City, until June 13, 1999. It will reopen in September, 1999, and will remain on view through March, 2000. Dia is open to the public Thursday through Sunday 12 noon to 6 pm.
Dia's exhibition will introduce the work Thomas Schütte, one of the leading European artists of his generation, to new audiences. Schütte's work ranges widely, from early architectural installations to small-scale modeled figures and proposals for monuments, from extensive series of watercolors, to banners, flags, and photographs. Although his art relates to many of the canonical genres of sculpture, like statuary or memorial, figurine or architectural embellishment, he typically undermines these familiar forms in order to reinvent them.
Seeking to explore the breadth and depth of Schütte's work as well as the close interplay between his three- and two-dimensional practice, Dia plans to stage this exhibition as a series of three installations over an eighteen-month period. Taking the theme of theater in its broadest sense, a theme central to Schütte's art, the exhibition will make reference to drama in a variety of guises, via allusions to scenography, mise en scènes, and surrogate actors.
Schütte's earliest exhibited work, created while still a student of Gerhard Richter at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, took the form of quasi-decorative, quasi-architectural installations. Out of this grew structures that were devised for and, in turn, influenced contemporary art exhibition design. Interested in contemporary experimental theater and scenography in the late 1970s, Schütte made a number of compelling early installations that reflect these preocupations. Together with several series of banners that have not been seen since the early 1980s, these seminal early works will be included among the opening ensemble of this changing exhibition, which will be on view from September through January, 1999.
The second phase, February through June, 1999, will include memorials and related forms, such as monuments commemorating individuals as well as works of a more generic, existential import. Fabricated over almost a decade, these diverse monuments take many different forms, but attest to the artist's ongoing preoccupation with memory, loss, and the problematics surrounding the construction of memorials in our contemporary world.
Finally, in the third installation, a new body of figure sculpture will be shown with a large new series of watercolors made directly from a live subject, staging a kind of autobiographical theater of life. These ostensibly more traditional works will be complemented by Schütte's much acclaimed series United Enemies, small, puppetlike wax figures, presented both as sculpture and, in close-up, in a suite of large-scale photographs. This last phase of the exhibition will open in September 1999 and will close in March 2000.
Thomas Schütte was born in Oldenburg, Germany, in 1954. He has had numerous solo exhibitions in Europe and participated in both Documenta 9 and Documenta 10 in Kassel. "Scenewright" will be his most substantial exhibition to date.
Support for this project has been provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the members of the Dia Art Council and the Next Decade Fund, with additional assistance from Marian Goodman Gallery.
Dia Center for the Arts is a tax-exempt charitable organization. Established in 1974, the organization has become one of the largest in the United States dedicated to contemporary art and contemporary culture. In fulfilling this commitment, Dia sustains diverse programming in visual arts, poetry, arts education, and critical discourse and debate.
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