Gustav Metzger

  • Born 1926 in Nuremberg, Germany

The son of Jewish-Polish parents, Gustav Metzger came to London in 1939 under the auspices of the Kindertransport (Refugee Children’s Movement). He attended the Cambridge School of Art in London and the Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten van Antwerpen (Royal Academy of Fine Arts), Antwerp (1948–49), on a scholarship from the United Kingdom’s Jewish community. During the 1950s he took on various jobs and was politically active, protesting rocket bases in the UK and promoting nuclear disarmament. In 1959 he developed the concept of “auto-destructive” art and began to publish and write on the subject. Based on the destructive potential of his time, his work combined destruction and construction to Metzger used bags of garbage, exhaust fumes, acid, and liquid crystals in his work. In 1966 he organized the international Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS) in London with members of the Vienna Actionist and Fluxus movements as well as psychologists, poets, and musicians such as John Lennon. From the 1970s onward, he created participatory art, with new technologies, and dealt with his personal history and the theme of extinction.

Artworks by Gustav Metzger in the exhibition