Thomas Schütte's Kirschensáule (Cherry Column) is an wooden sculpture based on the celebrated six-meter-high sculpture that the artist created for the 1987 Skulptur Projekte Mnster under the same title. Comprising two gleaming red aluminum cherries poised upon a sandstone plinth, the sculpture was placed in Mnster's Harsewinkelplatz as part of the second installment of the Skulptur Projekte's ten-yearly exhibition cycle. The present model takes its place within a series of specific studies for the sculpture, as well as within a more general set of cherry studies dating back to 1985. Evocative of lust and frivolity, the luscious fruit that adorns Kirschensáule plays into Schütte's hallmark conflation of grand monumental gesture and faintly irreverent, almost comedic presentation. Stylistically, the dignified stature of the sculpture, almost neo-classical in its pristine aesthetic, is subversively riddled with Surrealist overtones whilst simultaneously referencing the seductive icons of Pop Art. As Angela Vettese has written, "[t]his inversion of meaning, what is defined as antiphrasis, is the rhetorical device that lies at the very base of irony and of Schütte's work. Although specific to a particular time and place, [Kirschensáule and the studies around it transcend the particular to become universal, shifting from playfulness to drama and back again" (A. Vettese, "Kirschensule", in J. Heynan ed., Thomas Schütte, London 1998, p. 127).
The Münster commission marked an important moment in the early career of the young German artist, who, having exhibited widely throughout Europe, was to make his solo American debut two years later. Conceived with the aim of exploring the relationship between art and public places-something that was of particular interest to Schütte-the second Skulpture Projekte of 1987 invited works from a wide variety of established artists, including Donald Judd, Daniel Buren and Claes Oldenburg. Indeed, Kirschensáule has been compared to Oldenburg's work in its monumental glorification of an everyday item, heightened by the quotidian contrast of its urban surroundings. Predating the large-scale sculptures that Schütte would go on to create during the following decades, including the extensive series of Grosse Geister, Kirschensáule constituted one of the artist's most technically ambitious early projects, situated at start of what was to become an intense fascination with public monuments. Yet, in a manner typical of the artist, the work's commentary on the status of such objects is double-edged; as Vettese writes, "[s]etting two cherries on top of a column represents the joining of two opposites: it signifies both respecting and denying a tradition; combining the everyday and the perishable with the weight given to great, heroic buildings and statues" (A. Vettese, ibid., p. 121). Like so much of his later work, in particular his deformed homage to the sailor Alain Colas (1989), Kirschensáule is both celebratory and polemical in its presentation. As such, the delectable cherries, still resplendent in Mnster, continue to represent some of Schütte's most distinctive and renowned objects.