Walter Kütz

Johnen + Schöttle

Employing glue-soaked bundles of ragged textiles, Walter Kütz creates configurations that suggest body parts, internal organs, animal legs, or wings. In one instance, a horse’s head formed from old coats, jackets, trousers, and blankets, looms from a wooden bookcase like a gothic gargoyle. Filled with tension and flowing movement, the creased cloth even suggests the animal’s wide open nostrils and pulled back mouth. The tension in Kütz’s sculptures is produced not only by the form that results from the subjugation of the material; the energy seems to be inherent in the twists and folds of the bundled cloth.

Hearts, made of stuffed cushions and dyed red, are symbolic statements within Kütz’s oeuvre. As the place of sensation, of pain and grief, the heart is his point of departure. Kütz is not interested in the abstract, death-defying ideas that we normally try to immortalize in art, literature and philosophy; instead, he focuses on the matter that produces those ideas, that pulsates with life, blood, and juice and is therefore condemned to death and disintegration. Katz pursues this materiality in his sculptures, using found—that is, industrially manufactured—materials such as cardboard, tar, textiles, and various wooden objects. This method of adjusting and exploiting specific qualities of found materials enables Kütz to harmonize their characteristics with the features of the individual subjects.

Though Kütz’s approach shares affinities with Italian arte povera, not to mention Joseph Beuys’ “fat corners” and “felt suits,” it was his teacher, Klaus Rinke, who inspired him to use organic motifs.

Kütz deliberately employs material that cannot survive the centuries as do stone and bronze; he uses materials that, much like organic matter, are prey to putrefaction, and eventual dissolution. Hence, the theme of his sculptures is not the usual one of eternity, and victory over death, but instead it is one of endless metamorphosis. That is why his pieces are less sculptures than witnesses to their own transformation, less monuments to eternity than ephemeral traces.

Noemi Smolik

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel.