Gustav Metzger

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Gustav Metzger in 2009.

Gustav Metzger (10 April 1926 – 1 March 2017) was an artist and political activist who developed the concept of Auto-Destructive Art and the Art Strike. Together with John Sharkey, he initiated the Destruction in Art Symposium in 1966. Metzger is recognised for his protests in the political and artistic realms.


  • Auto-destructive art is conceived as a desperate last-minute subversive political weapon used by artists. It is an attack on the Capitalist system and the production of war materials. It is committed to nuclear disarmament and people's struggle.
    • In: Ark, Nr. 30-37, 1962.
  • What is the significance of viewer participation in your work?
    It has to do with kinetic art. Kinetic art has very much to do with the interaction between spectator and art. In the second half of the ’50s, this became a big international movement. When I moved from painting to connections within media, this came through in the first work, which was an exhibition of found cardboard pieces. It was a turning point for me. The world itself, the industrial fabricated world, could stand for the man-made world of art.

Gustav Metzger: 'Destroy, and you create', 2012[edit]

Stuart Jeffries "Gustav Metzger: 'Destroy, and you create'," in The Guardian, 26 Nov. 2012.

  • Facing up to the Nazis and the powers of the Nazi state coloured my life as an artist.
  • At the beginning I was confronted with a choice: move into art or revolutionary politics,... I took the path of art at the age of 18.... I could see this possibility of using the ideas of social change within art.
  • I don't want my image to appear in the mass media, since it would detract from the project.
  • Atomic physics, was the worst thing that happened in the 20th century.

Quotes about Gustav Metzger[edit]

  • In his 60 years of critiquing waste, commercialization, environmental exploitation, and social injustice, he has employed trash, old newspapers, liquid crystals, and industrial materials, and he has even painted with acid. Since Metzger is known for his work’s philosophical dimension, sometimes penning essays related to his art’s themes.

External links[edit]

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