Wichte (Imps)

Thomas Schütte

Oldenburg, Germany, 1954
  • Date: 
  • Material: 
    Patinated bronze and steel bases
  • Technique: 
  • Descriptive technique: 
    Set of twelve bronze heads on a steel base
  • Dimensions: 
    Variable dimensions
  • Category: 
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 

Thomas Schütte’s interest in working with busts or heads goes back to the mid-1980s, when he began to approach the subject in rudimentarily modelled polychromatic wood and plaster works. This return to the figure and representation of the body is part of the general return to the narrative and allegory in art in the 1980s, a time when the theatrical held a prevalent position. These works presented what the artist has referred to as “the grammar of the character”, as opposed to the mere representation of the psychological. Thomas Schütte later worked on the figure and the human body in sculpture-series of a markedly uninhibited expressionism, such as Großer Respekt (Large Respect) y Kleiner Respekt (Small Respect), both 1994, and the well-known Die Frauen (Women), from between 1998 and 2006. This work, entitled Wichte (Imps), consists of twelve heads on metal shelves representing individual, brutalised, grotesque faces. These wichte are imps or goblins, ageless, timeless disturbing figures, always alert, threatening, giving off an aura of brutality. Although cast in bronze, they look viscous and soft, reminiscent of other sculpture-series by the artist such as the photographic series United Enemies, from the mid-1990s, and even certain drawings and watercolours of faces from the same decade.

Carmen Fernández Aparicio