Thomas Schütte (B. 1954)
Andy Warhol (1928-1986)
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Thomas Schütte (B. 1954)

Kleiner Respekt (Small Respect)

Thomas Schütte (B. 1954)
Kleiner Respekt (Small Respect)
signed, titled and dated ‘Kleiner Respekt 1994 Th. Schütte’ (on the underside of the figures)
Fimo, plaster and paint on a wooden plinth
figures: 20 ¾ x 19 3/8 x 19 3/8in. (52.5 x 49 x 49cm.)
plinth: 91 1/8 x 39 3/8 x 39 3/8in. (234 x 100 x 100cm.)
overall: 112 ¾ x 39 3/8 x 39 3/8in. (286.5 x 100 x 100cm.)
Executed in 1994, this work is unique
Galerie Konrad Fischer, Dusseldorf
BACOB Collection, Belgium
Faggionato Fine Art, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
J. Heynen, J. Lingwood and A. Vettese, (eds.), Thomas Schütte, London 1998 (illustrated in colour, pp. 106-107).
U. Loock, (ed.), Thomas Schütte: Public/Political, Cologne 2012, p. 99 (illustrated in colour, pp. 98 and 100).
Washington D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Distemper: Dissonant Themes in the Art of the 1990s, 1996, pp. 102 and 129, no. 36 (illustrated in colour, p. 103).
London, Whitechapel Gallery, Thomas Schütte, 1998-1999. This exhibition later travelled to Tilburg, de Pont Foundation for Contemporary Art and Porto, Fundação de Serralves.
New York, Dia Center for the Arts, Gloria in Memoria, 1999, pp. 48 and 86, no. 3.3 (illustrated in colour, pp. 49, 60 – 61, 66 – 67 and 87).
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Thomas Schütte: Mann im Matsch-der Suchende, 2009, p. 103 (installation view illustrated in colour, pp. 34-37).
Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Thomas Schütte Hindsight, 2010, p. 198 (illustrated in colour, pp. 116 and 121).
Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Thomas Schütte. Figur, 2013 – 2014, p. 189 (illustrated in colour, p. 60).
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

‘Ultimately, Schütte’s art wins respect by giving politics’ hazy entanglements a concrete image which might encourage analysis, or even action’ (H. R. Reust in U. Loock (ed.), Thomas Schütte. Public/Political, Cologne 2012, p. 99).

With its three robed figures intractably bound, wrestling for an uncertain power, Thomas Schütte’s Kleiner Respekt balances precariously upon a totemic plinth. Executed in 1994, it belongs to one of the most important phases of Schütte’s figural practice and, along with its companion works Große Respekt and No Respekt, represents a subversive commentary on the architecture of power. Following on from the artist’s acclaimed installation Fremden (Strangers) at documenta two years previously, as well as the United Enemies and Innocenti of the same period, Kleiner Respekt continues Schütte’s wry examination of the public-political nexus. Pompously elevated upon a lofty pedestal yet deliberately diminutive in stature, Kleiner Respekt taps into the tragi-comic dimensions of political machination. Bound together by a sticky glue-like patina, the figures extend the language of Schütte’s formative sculptural series Mann im Matsch (Man in Mud), 1982-85, whose miniature protagonists struggled in vain against a sea of mud. Moulded from a combination of fimo and plaster, the figures are at once writhing, visceral forms and pathetic remnants of humanity, puppet-like monsters eternally conjoined in a fruitless three-way struggle. Haunted by a humanizing fleshiness, the gruesomely warped goblin-like visages profess the fragility of corporeal existence, macabre reminders of the ill-fated human condition. Yet underpinning this vulgarity is a jarring sense of comedy, aping the drama of modern politics as the figures attempt to break free from their competitors.

Conceived following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the unstable tug of war enacted by Schütte’s sculptural trio recalls the images of toppled statues that flooded the media in the aftermath of the Cold War. Included in major solo exhibitions at Whitechapel Gallery, London, Haus der Kunst, Munich, and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Kleiner Respekt engages the dialogue between patriarchy and human frailty that continues to inform the development of Schütte’s practice. Schütte’s satirical approach to figurative sculpture first began in 1992, prompted by a year spent living in Rome. There, he had observed the heroic statues of Roman antiquity, and admired the portraits of emperors in the collection of the Capitoline Museum. At this time, however, Italy was marked by considerable political upheaval, with the ‘Clean Hands’ scandal which famously implicated Andreotti and Craxi. The contrast between the classical icons and the realities of contemporary politics gave birth to a new sculptural vernacular within Schütte’s practice. Through his figurative forms, Schütte 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 of his subjects to reveal undercurrents of venality and duplicity, tempered by comedic posture and morphological absurdity. In the Respekt series that followed, Schütte continued to explore these dualities whilst looking back to the sculptural language of the Mann im Matsch works. Described by James Lingwood as ‘no more than ignoble little toys covered in wax and mired in the mud’, Mann im Matsch embodied a kind of anti-heroic existentialism that is recapitulated in Kleiner Respekt (J. Lingwood in U. Loock (ed.), Thomas Schütte. Public/Political, Cologne 2012, p. 94). The viscous substance in which Schütte had previously embedded his tiny figures now subsumes their entire being, invading their garments and welding them together like tar. Constituting an overt critique of the patriarchs of political life, Schütte’s eternally ensnarled puppet-like figures evoke the unfavourable alliances forcibly procured by political circumstance or personal greed. Rendered impotent and static by their enchainment, they are reduced to little more than theatrical clowns, farcically conjoined, fated to perform forever upon Schütte’s exposed stage.

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