The work Große Geister (Big Spirits) of the German artist Thomas Schutte consists of four approximately 2.5 meter bronze figures.
After sculptural miniatures from painted modeling compound, in 1995 he produced the first Große Geister sculptures, of which there are 17 different versions in all. Iconographically, they convincingly act as individual figures in front of buildings, like the — wild as well as friendly — great guardian spirits as we know them for example from East-Asian cultures. Functionless here and there or in groups, they guide us into a labyrinth of possible associations with iconic images: of real astronauts in shimmering metallic space suits, of fantasy births from comics, fantasy and science fiction-films as well as their appropriations through the advertising industry. Images of reality, but also much older archaic image worlds of beasts, monsters and demons are overlaid by the new iconographies of a proliferating trivial culture. The associative tendencies are certainly influenced by the respective generation: the bulgy manikins of the Michelin advert, the Golems of gloomy Prague or the bad boys Max and Moritz, as they step out of the confectioner’s barrel dripping dough.
The effect of the Großen Geister is thus based on reminding us of already familiarly strange, uncanny or even threatening things. If their disconcerting exterior is ignored, however, the Großen Geister appear as scared and confused beings, which for some unknown reason find themselves again on unknown terrain and ask themselves with a helpless gesture the anxious question of how they could get out of the awkward situation as quickly as possible — for example out of that at the Kunstplatz Graben: a central existential situation, which any of us could find themselves in.
Text: Edelbert Köb
Kunstplatz Graben, at Graben 21, 1010 Vienna