United Enemies: A Play in Ten Scenes
In 1994 German artist Thomas Schutte produced a small group of figurative sculptures and corresponding photographic images, which bear the common title ‘United Enemies’ Each of these works consists of two little men, tied together on a piece of pvc pipe which serves as a base, dressed in colorful scraps of fabric and placed under a bell jar for display. The faces resemble the character studies of Daumier: ruthless, yet imbued with a love of the human species. In their grotesque features, one can easily read anger, shrewdness and mutual distrust – and the types of concern that these wicked figures may well force upon each other. But one never knows with Schütte. They might as well be friends, united in word, but just as divided by their own plans and ambitions.
Thomas Schütte (b.1954) is concerned with models for living, rules for making art and, in turn, the failed flights of these systems and aspirations. Schütte's art looks utilitarian - offering shelter, sustenance and companionship - but delivers false promises and alien worlds such as his museum that incinerates art, potatoes made of bronze and the artist's vision of humanity as tiny wooden audiences, two-headed hybrids or giant robotic figures.
Schütte's sculptures vary in scale from giant candy-colored fruits to miniature fairy-tale buildings. The artist manipulates size, materials and subject matter with astounding versatility and dexterity, perpetually shifting scales so that the viewer is immersed in a series of poetic yet dysfunctional utopias. He has also constructed a series of architectural models of institutions and monuments whose eclectic array of building typologies suggest de Chirico-like metaphysical spaces.
Schütte's sculptures, installations, photographs and watercolors have been exhibited in museums and galleries as well as in public commissions throughout Europe, Asia and the United States.