Gustav Metzger

Kunsthalle Basel

Gustav Metzger has always worked against the art market, rather than for it. In 1959, he articulated his concept of autodestructive art in a manifesto—an adaptation of Theodor Adorno’s argument that “writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric” to the field of visual art in the era of nuclear weapons. By 1974, his radical approach led to the call for an “art strike.” Though he initiated and participated in many groundbreaking events, like the Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS) in London in 1966, it took decades for Metzger’s art to find its way into museums (and a very few private collections). A retrospective at the Generali Foundation in Vienna last year highlighted Metzger’s importance for critical politically—and economically—engaged art practices and ephemeral aesthetics.

For his recent solo show in Basel, Metzger showed two new installations: Eichmann and the Angel, 2005, was originally

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