We wrote letters but received no replies. One of us pushed a note under the door of his flat in London. Then we were able to speak to him. But the tape recorder had to stay off.
He was born in Nürnberg. His parents, orthodox Jews, and nearly all his other relatives were murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War. When the Refugee Children Movement saved him in 1939 and brought him to England, he was twelve. Twenty years later he gave his first individual exhibition entitled Three Paintings by G. Metzger in a London café.
At his South Bank Demonstration in London in 1961 he presented Auto-Destructive Art for the first time in a public space with acid action painting. A few years later he developed Auto-Creative Art. He was a founder member of the Committee of 100, which was dedicated to opposing nuclear war and weapons of mass destruction, he took part in demonstrations and was sent to prison in Staffordshire for a one month sentence. He performed his Liquid Crystal Projections in the 1960s at concerts of the bands The Cream and The Move in London. His lectures inspired Pete Townshend to smash his guitar on stage. In 1966 he initiated and organised the Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS) in London, in which numerous artists took part, including Bob Cobbing, Henri Chopin, Ivor Davies, Al Hansen, Juan Hidalgo, Kurt Kren, John Latham, Jean-Jacques Lebel, Otto Mühl, Ralph Ortiz, Yoko Ono, Robin Page, Wolf Vostell and Peter Weibel.
Years without Art: In the 1970s he called an Art Strike which was supposed to last for three years, but at that time no-one wanted to take part. In contrast, in response to our invitation to contribute to the project Tribute to Gustav Metzger the acceptance letters were soon flooding in. Demonstrations, manifestos, concepts, exhibitions – it is an unsettling, radical lifework which gives a subjective, appropriate response to the destructive mechanisms of the twentieth century and the present, and which invites people to contradict it, comment on it and refer to it. In Justin Hoffmann, who has long concerned himself with the subject of Destruction Art, we found the right man to act as curator of the Tribute project.
Katarina Agathos / Herbert Kapfer
Designing a Tribute to Gustav Metzger is a challenge in every respect. Not only because there is a fundamental difficulty in transferring the production and thought of a fine artist to radio and CD, i.e. onto an acoustic level, but also because Metzger's oeuvre itself is bulky enough to cause complications when handling it. I am therefore all the more grateful to all involved who were not afraid to take the risk.
Justin Hoffmann, Wolfsburg, 1.9.2008
news • about • artists • records • contact / imprint • order • links