Thomas Schütte’s latest exhibition pairs a fleet of Murano glass sculptures, all made between 2011 to 2022, with more than three dozen works on paper. The selection focuses on portraiture, while also touching on some of the artist’s other motifs, such the three urns in varying colors, all 2020, and a trio of “glass ghosts”, all 2011, small emerald-hued figurines that formally recall Schütte’s anthropomorphic metal sculptures. Many of the glass pieces are exhibited on tall cylindrical steel bases, and, depending on the objects’ proximity to a window, the ambient light renders them transparent and luminous. Extremely beautiful, a quartet of busts in one gallery are created like casts, with both sides of their surfaces exposed; from the back the inverted facial features seem almost deformed. In another room, the artist further complicates our perception by placing two other faces, You Nr. 25 and Me Nr. 25, both 2018, horizontally on their pedestals so that it becomes difficult to discern their profiles or even the materials of which they are made. (The extremely opaque glass at first glance appears to be marble.)
Other subjects convey the somewhat grotesque quality we have come to expect from Schütte’s work; the two Berengo Heads (Nr. 13 and Nr. 15, both 2011) are deliberately roughly hewn, like blocks of wax in the process of dissolution. Rather unexpectedly, Gartenzwerge S (Garden Gnomes S, 2017) offers a cluster of vividly colored vases suggestive of postmodern design, elegantly placed on an antique table.
Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.
— Giorgio Verzotti