Gustav Metzger, Historic Photograph Terror and Oppression, 2007, two black-and-white photographs on fabric, 18' 6“ x 14' 7” and 15' 5“ x 14' 7”.


Gustav Metzger

Serpentine Galleries
Kensington Gardens
September 29–November 8, 2009

Curated by Rebecca Morrill, Sophie O’Brien, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Julia Peyton-Jones

Capitalism, to Gustav Metzger, has always looked like a handcart to hell—so it’s apt that this extensive survey of the Nuremberg-born, London-based, officially “stateless” octogenarian’s six-decade career follows a global economic upheaval. Leading off with early paintings, the Serpentine will feature Metzger’s notable metaphors for our ineluctable journey on the Oblivion Express—his notorious “auto-destructive” pieces (disintegrating sculptures, acid-splashed canvases) begun in the late ’50s—in addition to his presciently eco-minded critiques of consumerist excess via accumulations of used materials. Various “auto-creative” works, including his perpetually dissolving liquid-crystal projections of the ’60s, will sidestep the cult of the maker, while an extensive archive of newspapers will sit at the show’s center, accessible to all and emblematizing the retrospective’s participatory slant.