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Gustav Metzger

Gustav Metzger

The independent started his article on Metzger that he is probably the artist you have never heard of. Still he is one of the most influential artists for the decades to come.

‘Gustav Metzger remains a moral compass, a constant reminder that integrity comes at a price, and that fighting for your convictions can indeed change the world. Metzger has done more than raise awareness. His art and philosophy are a stark testimony to the alternative world for which he strove.’–Mathieu Copeland

Gustav Metzger was an artist and political activist who developed the concept of Auto-Destructive Art and the Art Strike. At the heart of Metzger’s practice was a passionate engagement with the notion of creation as a continual counterpoint to themes of destruction. This exhibition will look at works that explore nature, man-made environments and human intervention.

Gustav Metzger was born in 1926 in Nuremburg, Germany to a Polish-Jewish family. In 1939, at the age of 12, Metzger and his brother were evacuated from Germany to England on the ‘Kindertransport’. He lost his parents and most of his immediate family to the Holocaust. In his youth he decided to become ‘a kind of revolutionary’, but after living for six months in a Trotskyist-anarchist Commune in Bristol, Metzger decided this wasn’t what he wanted. He was later convinced to attend life-drawing classes by Henry Moore, after asking to be his assistant and went on to study in Cambridge, Oxford, Antwerp and London.

Metzger was the chief proponent of the Auto-Destructive Art (or ADA) movement and organised the DIAS (Destruction in Art Symposium) in 1966 with contemporaries such as John Sharkey. Other notable attendees and contributors were members of the Fluxus movement and Yoko Ono, who performed her seminal participatory ‘Cut Piece’, where members of the audience were invited to gradually snip away her clothing using a pair of fabric scissors.

Metzger dedicated much of his life and career to campaigning for environmental issues, nuclear disarmament and expressing his distaste for consumerism and the wider capitalist agenda. has 2 important Metzger publications now available.

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