Gustav Metzger

Modern Art Oxford

Although to some extent invisible in the ’80s, Gustav Metzger was a vital art-world presence throughout the ’60s and ’70s, a period of manifestos, lectures, actions, events, and festivals on the theme of “auto-destructive art” culminating, in Metzger’s case, with his call for a three-year art strike: “Years Without Art, 1977–1980”—no work, no shows, no sales, nothing. It was necessary, he felt, in order to give artists time to reflect on their activity and to become more theoretically engaged. Thus his decade of comparative invisibility began, during which younger artists gradually became aware of Metzger’s rigorous, critical attitude to artmaking.

Oxford’s engaging show of Metzger’s work had a concentrated historical core, collecting documentation, maquettes, and proposals from the artist’s early career, an interview on video, and a recording of the 1981 auto-destructive action South Bank

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