Thomas Schütte


‘I still think the job of the artist is to tell continuous stories with colour, light, lines, form and volume. It is about developing and making work that is independent and convincing.' 

Thomas Schütte (b. 1954, Oldenburg) studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Gerhard Richter, Daniel Buren and Benjamin Buchloh. Influenced by minimal and conceptual art as well as music, theatre design and classical sculpture, Schütte’s installations, sculptures, prints, drawings and watercolours take different and often contradictory forms. The artist returns to time and again to human or human-like heads. Sometimes portrayed as grotesque or comic, or as characters in an ongoing drama, he has rendered the subject in wax, bronze, Murano glass and, as in Kopf (Mann) (2018), ceramic. His sculptures and sculptural installations often begin as small wax or clay models that are then cast at large scale, such as Mann im Wind I–III (2018), a series central to his solo exhibition at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2019). Model for a Hotel (2007) was a sculpture constructed from brightly coloured panes of glass that occupied Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth for eighteen months. The work underlined how even though his art often looks utilitarian, as if it might offer sustenance, shelter or companionship, it often delivers false promises and alien worlds.


In 2016 the artist had a major solo exhibition United Enemies at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet, which was the same year he opened Skulpturenhalle outside Düsseldorf, an exhibition space for contemporary sculpture as well as a home for his own works. Unpredictable and enormously inventive, Schütte uses a wide range of materials to revise the basic constituents – natural, cultural, political – of everyday life while exploring fundamental questions about the role of the artist in an age of entertainment.