'I think it was John Berger who once said: Virtually all that has remained from the tangled mass of 19th century are a few rough sketches. Pathos failed to establish itself. The 20th century successfully erased itself until it formulated its own pathos formulas. Consequently, I prefer the sketch because you can just roll up a month's work and pack it under your arm. Not everything has to be cast in lead. It is the sheer simplicity of just taking a huge piece of paper, painting it, and rolling it up the next morning.' (T. Schütte, quoted in U. Loock, Thomas Schütte, Cologne 2004, p. 88).
Carried out in 1984, Die Burg is a large-scale work on paper by arch iconoclast and formidable public/political commentator, Thomas Schütte. Standing over two metres in height, it offers an unassuming yet potent critique on the institution. As the title of the work intimates, the drawing depicts the arched windows of a small fortress, framing an empty cyan blue sky. The composition has an almost 'de Chiricolike' emptiness, the viewer staring at an empty, evacuated room. The architectural features of the fortress are rendered with clean lines reminiscent of Minimalism, at the same time the use of vibrant colour and gestural application of paint defies this aesthetic. A smaller, felt-tip and watercolour on paper example of the Die Burg series is held in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
For Schütte, the drawing or architectural plan has long been situated at the centre of his practice. Undertaken in 1981 for a large group exhibition entitled 'Westkunst' in Cologne, the artist's series Plans I-XXX undertake a similar project. Stripped of detail and style, the works depict skyscrapers, churches, telecommunications towers amongst other architectural features. Together they 'unmask architecture as the cold face of power' (J. Lingwood quoted in U. Loock (ed.), Thomas Schütte: Public/Political, 2012, p. 31). In Die Burg with its pared back aesthetic, Schütte offers an equally withering critique, the 'brutal economy of means' undertaking the artist's deconstruction of the hidden powe narratives embedded within the building.