Lot 221
  • 221

Thomas Schütte

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
289,250 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Thomas Schütte
  • General
  • signed and numbered 4/6 on the underside of the figure
  • aluminium figure wrapped in artist's clothes in steel and glass vitrine

Catalogue Note

General by Thomas Schütte, provides a unique opportunity to acquire a sculptural work from the recent series of one of the most important artists of this generation. The significance of this work has definitively been acknowledged by the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago through their acquisition of a work from the General series, and the current sale marks the first time these works have appeared at auction.

Fundamental to Schütte’s artistic career has been the mining of crucial contemporary issues including power, politics, memory, and the deficiency of art to bring these concerns into the contemporary conscious.   For Schütte, art does however provide a means to question, to expose inconsistencies and to undermine certainties. The artist’s unrelenting investigations into our modern day psyche are no more pointed than when focused towards political realities and their resulting reflection of societal structures.

In the present lot, Schütte employs the expressive potential of physiognomy to once more engage the individual viewer to address a broader universal reality.  Reminiscent of the tradition of sculpted caricature by Honoré Daumier in France, the late 18th century sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt in Germany, 15th century Italian caricature and the exaggerated characters of Commedia dell’Arte, Schütte borrows from forms of visual political critique that have been employed throughout history, reapplying it to the present day. The isolated figure, wrapped in a heavy blanket that reveals only a disquieting and grotesque face, stands motionless. Bound by an oversized mantel that is suggestive of an infant’s swaddling clothes, the artist relegates this archetypal historical figure of the General to immobility, immortalizing him within a moment of secluded impotence. Simultaneously however, the artist’s use of aluminum releases the figure from isolation, the shiny surface joining the work and the viewer in distorted reflection; the dictator and society at once echoed in and reinforced by each other, highlighting a world of charged anxiety. General, in communion with Schütte’s army of dystopian figures configured throughout his oeuvre, gives form to the continual burden of traumatic history and it’s heavy handed influence on the present.