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GUSTAV METZGER

GUSTAV METZGER

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Published by JOHN A WALKER
a chronological account by John A. Walker of the life and radical artwork of the artist Gustav Metzger
a chronological account by John A. Walker of the life and radical artwork of the artist Gustav Metzger

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Published by: JOHN A WALKER on Sep 29, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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04/12/2013

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GUSTAV METZGER, THE CONSCIENCE OF THEARTWORLD
John A. Walker (Copyright 2009)
Gustav Metzger. Image may be subject to copyright.------------------------------------------------------------------------------Gustav Metzger is a survivor, an itinerant intellectual-agitator who has lived invarious European countries including Britain. After residing in the Netherlands forsome years - where he researched the art of Vermeer - he reappeared in London inNovember 1994. In March 1995 he gave a meticulously prepared and thought-provoking lecture about his beliefs and 'career' to student members of the ArtHistory Society of Middlesex University. Here is a chronology of his life (revised in
 
 
2009):1926. Metzger was born into a Polish-Jewish family that lived in Nuremberg,Germany - famous for its annual Nazi rallies. Metzger recalled that as a child hewas impressed by the growing power and visual impact of those rallies and Nazidesign/architecture; this is one of the reasons why he later became suspicious of design, architecture and forms of mass manipulation such as the press, politicalpropaganda and commercial advertising. In 1939 Metzger was sent with his elderbrother to England to escape Nazi persecution. Other members of his family werenot so fortunate - they perished in the Holocaust. Naturally this loss shapedMetzger's view that humanity was brutal, dangerous and self-destructive.1941-44. Studied woodwork and cabinet-making in Leeds. Made furniture andfarmed near Bristol - lived in a commune of Anarchists and Trotskyists. Becameinterested in revolutionary politics and the ideas of Wilhelm Reich.1944-53. Became interested in art. In 1944 he met Henry Moore and asked tobecome his assistant. Moore advised him to take up life drawing. Studied full andpart-time at various art schools in Cambridge, London, Oxford and Antwerp.Influenced by the ideas of Eric Gill - combining art with political activism. In 1944he tried his hand at stone carving. Painted from 1945 to 1957. Very influential wasthe drawing and painting tuition he received at the Borough Polytechnic, Londonfrom the Jewish-British, former Vorticist, David Bomberg. In 1946 Metzger thought
 
 
painting should be 'fast and intense'. When, years later, he saw Pollock's actionpaintings he realised that they were close to his ideal. 1945-46 ‘Exhibition of Paintings by Picasso and Matisse’ at the Victoria & Albert Museum - Metzgerimpressed by the Picassos.1948. Takes part in group exhibitions at Ben Uri Gallery and the London Group,Academy Hall London.1950. East End Academy group show, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London.1953. With other Bomberg students, Metzger founded the Borough Bottega, a groupdesigned to recognise Bomberg‘s achievements. Contributed to 'Borough Bottega'paintings and drawings show, November-December, Berkeley Gallery, London.1953-58. Worked as a junk dealer in King's Lynn, Norfolk. 1956. Very impressed bythe ‘This is Tomorrow’, show at the Whitechapel Art Gallery.1959. Moved to London. Fearing a world war fought with Hydrogen bombs,Metzger sympathised with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

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