Manfred Kuttner belongs to an older generation of German artists and, despite differing approaches and starting points, his early work from the 1960s has strong resonances with the work of younger abstract artists.
Kuttner first studied at Dresden Art Academy in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany). In the early 1960s, he moved to West Germany and enrolled at Düsseldorf Academy of Art, where he became friends with such influential figures as Gerhard Richter, Konrad Lueg and Sigmar Polke.
The painting process itself was a subject of Kuttner’s work, as it was for Richter, Polke and Lueg. However, while the other artists (influenced by American Pop art) took popular culture imagery as their starting point, Kuttner focused more on non-representational, abstract painting, using geometric patterns, high colour and contrast, collaged elements and layered overpainting. During the early 1960s a newly invented luminescent paint - Pelikan’s Plaka paint - came onto the market, and Kuttner readily adopted it, as it adhered to almost all surfaces and came in luridly bright colours. With these fluorescent colours, Kuttner began to not only paint on canvases, but also to cover entire objects, including the Art Academy’s piano and typewriter.
Richter and Polke went on to become two of Germany’s best-known artists, while Konrad Lueg, later known as Konrad Fischer, was one of the most significant gallery-owners and collectors of Minimalist and Conceptual art in Europe. In contrast to his three contemporaries, in the mid-1960s, Kuttner made a conscious decision to withdraw from the art world, dedicating himself instead to his young family and a more stable career in advertising and graphic design.
Kuttner’s paintings shown here in Level 2 Gallery reveal the visual parallels with the younger artists on display and the dynamic and disorientating effects of his use of form, shape and neon colour.
Manfred Kuttner was born in 1937 in Greiz/Thüringen, Germany and lives and works in Erkrath near Düsseldorf.