The cancellation of a planned Thomas Schütte exhibition at MOMA was a huge stroke of luck for the Georg Kolbe Museum, who’ve been given the chance to put on a selection of his most celebrated work.
You’ll find much of his most well-known series are included, even a 2021 re-examination of his arguably most famous: Old Friends Revisited. Placed in a semi-circle on raised plinths around the entrance, the devious and unpleasant expressions of these busts of old men are an immediately disconcerting sight.
In the main exhibition room, the molten wooden figures of Krieger (Warriors) are a towering presence, their fighting spirit undermined by the severity of their physical distortions and absurd headwear fashioned from enlarged screw-top bottles. Around the edges, encircling them, are the sunken cheeks and gnarled faces of heavy-browed bronzes.
A more recent series, Frauenköpfe, is made from Murano glass: the alluring, fluid faces seem to both melt and emerge out of the material. Schütte’s inventive figures teem with disconcerting energies and dualities, capturing not only the frailty of human existence, but its grotesqueness too. This is an excellent opportunity to see the work of one of Germany’s greatest living artists.
Thomas Schütte, Georg Kolbe Museum, Charlottenburg. Through Feb 20