Thomas Schütte (b.1954)
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Thomas Schütte (b.1954)

Ohne titel (Doppelkopf) (Untitled (Double head))

Details
Thomas Schütte (b.1954)
Ohne titel (Doppelkopf) (Untitled (Double head))
signed and dated 'TH. SCHÜTE 1993' (on the underside of the heads)
glazed ceramic and metal plinth
heads: 11 x 9½ x 14¼in. (28 x 24 x 36cm.)
base: 58¾ x 16¾ x 16¾in. (149 x 42.5 x 42.5cm.)
overall: 69¾ x 16¾ x 16¾in. (177 x 42.5 x 42.5cm.)
Executed in 1993
Provenance
Produzentengalerie, Hamburg.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1994.
Exhibited
Hamburg, Produzentengalerie, Alte Freunde - Neue Arbeiten, 1993 (installation view illustrated, unpaged).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

Thomas Schütte's Untitled (Doppelkopf) serves an irreverent blow to the architects and architecture of power. Perched atop an apparently precarious pedestal, the artist has created a contemporary Janus of warm, earthen ceramic. The two faces are conjoined, wed to one another in an ineluctable bond. Modulated with the artist's bare fingers, the faces are tactile, visceral and intensely human, their expressions legible to the viewer who interacts with them. Chin raised and eyes peering down his nose with contempt, one of the two faces has an air of authority and confidence; his alternate has his eyes closed as if in meditation or recoiling from antipathy. Janus was the Roman god who presided over all beginnings and transitions, the two heads symbolically reflecting the change and progress from past to future. In Untitled (Doppelkopf), we find a deity unable to transcend the present: Schütte's study for figures of authority presenting protagonists who are both imperfect and inadequate.

Created in 1993, Untitled (Doppelkopf) was undertaken shortly after the artist's visit to Rome to stay at the Villa Massimo in 1992. This was the same year as Schütte's sculptural installation Strangers at Documenta and it was here in Rome during the 'Clean Hands' political scandal, famously implicating Andreoti and Craxi, that Schütte decided to create a new sculptural vernacular. Through his sculpted figurative forms, Schtte began to tackle the corruption bound up with the armature of political power. In the United Enemies and Innocenti series, the artist stripped back the smart suits and ingratiating smiles toreveal programmatic venality and duplicity. At the same time, the strangelysensual and bare faces appear vulnerable and fragile in their precarious positions. In Untitled (Doppelkopf), Schütte continues this searing deconstruction of power, the thin, towering tripod offering an air of anxiety. Standing next to the work, the viewer perceives the fragility of the hieratic head, as if ready to be supplanted at any moment.

Born out of the 1970s art scene in Dusseldorf where he studied under the greats: Gerhard Richter, Daniel Buren, Günther Uecker and Blinky Palermo, Schütte forms part of a pivotal generation including Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff, Candida Höfer and Katharina Fritsch, who made a profound impact on contemporary art making. For Schütte, his foregrounding in post-War Germany imbues his work with a latent skepticism towards the political, bureaucratic, ideological and those institutions of power that interact with the public. A student of Daniel Buren and Gerhard Richter, whose 18 October 1977 cycle of paintings caused such furor in Germany, it is perhaps unsurprising that Schütte's iconoclastic Untitled (Doppelkopf) presents such an uncompromising challenge to the powers that be.

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