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Many things come from sleepless nights. Sometimes I get up at five in the morning and make a sketch in the dark before I forget it. While I think about it, design it, decide where to put the screws, the object itself becomes very straightforward – because it doesn’t come from making, but from thinking. If these pieces relate to architecture it’s just that they are big forms, they need that scale to work. They are like scenery, and the viewer becomes part of the set ... I see a whole room in each piece, with the viewer as actor on stage.
(Quoted in Possible Worlds, p.72.)
Several other images from the Haupstadt II series were made first into cardboard maquettes and then into full-sized ‘model’ sculptures. Modell für ein Museum 1982 (Collection Kunsthalle Bern) is the most significant of these. Proposing a giant incinerator as the receptacle for art works, it presents a pessimistic reading of the relationship between the artist and the institution. Another of the image-models, Joker-Poker 1984 (Collection Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf), consists of two façades, a reference to theatricality and pretence which runs through much of Schütte’s work.
Schütte began building table-top maquettes in 1980 as a means of exhibiting sculptural proposals which would not be executed. An architectural intervention planned for the Westkunst trade fair in Cologne, consisting of a raised viewing platform, became the model Schiff (Ship) 1980. Together with Kiste (Box) and Bühne (Stage), the propostions became known as the Westkunst Modelle (Westkunst Models) and were animated by plastic Star Wars dolls and cut-out wooden figures to register scale. During the 1980s, models of various kinds became central to Schütte’s practice. These range from stage-like tableaux composed of painted board and plastic dolls, painted fabric banners and cut-out wooden facades witnessed by crowds of silhouetted figures, to table-top models of artists’ studios from which the human form is completely absent. Schütte employs three scales – 1:1, 1:5 and 1:20. He has explained: ‘I used a model because ... it’s very accessible to a variety of readings ... You can imagine it as the prototype for something bigger, or as something seen from the child’s point of view; [or] you can see it as a public theatre ... These are ways of imagining situations.’ (Quoted in Thomas Schütte 2002, p.40.) The use of models permits Schütte to retain a provisional status to his works; they are suggestions or propositions, not a claim to truth. However, with Double Cross the use of an industrial material, steel, takes the work beyond the maquette and the transitory status of wood or mdf and introduces a sense of permanence at odds with the model scale.
Thomas Schütte, exhibition catalogue, Kunsthalle Bern, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven 1990, reproduced p.119 in colour
Possible Worlds: Sculpture from Europe, Institute of Contemporary Arts and Serpentine Gallery, London 1990, pp.69-79
Thomas Schütte: Scenewright; Gloria in Memoria; In Medias Res, exhibition catalogue, Dia Center for the Arts, New York 2002