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Recent Acquisition

Release Date: February 19, 2021

Thomas Schütte, "Man Without Face"

 


Thomas Schütte
Man Without Face, 2018
cast patinated bronze on artist's steel base
overall (sculpture and pedestal): 223 x 80 cm (87 13/16 x 31 1/2 in.)
overall (sculpture): 123 x 67.5 cm (48 7/16 x 26 9/16 in.)
pedestal: 100 x 80 cm (39 3/8 x 31 1/2 in.)
gross weight: 113.399 kg (250 lb.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Gift of the Collectors Committee
2020.104.1
Press image available here...

Working across media to explore themes of cultural history and the human struggle for progress, Thomas Schütte (b. 1954) is best known for his sculptural output and his focus sculpture and the role of the monument. A leading artist of his generation, Schütte demonstrates his concerns in a variety of scales, often within a given series and a combination of architectural and figurative elements. Man Without Face (2018) is the first work by Schütte to enter the Gallery’s collection.

Using new approaches to traditional sculpture, Schütte’s examines the human form by presenting the figure in a series of anti-heroic postures. In 1982/1983 Schütte made his first figural work, Man in Mud, which developed from the simple solution to a problem: to keep a figure upright, the artist inserted the figure’s legs in a box that came up to its knees. The work came to represent the existential crisis of modernity’s constant need for progress.

The artist has made more than 20 variants of this work in different sizes and configurations, each subsequent work unmaking the previous work’s meaning and interpretation. Schütte’s most recent series of bronzes explores new dimensions of this earlier work to look at the artist’s own progress. The National Gallery’s cast of Man Without Face, is the second largest of these works and features a laborer standing up to his shins in muck. In place of his face is a sheer vertical surface, as if his identity had been sliced off, and in his right hand he holds his own mask-like visage, with eyes open and gazing back, away from the figure. In Man Without Face, Schütte imagines a way forward by looking back.

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