October 22, 2020

2017-03-03 – The Brownsville Herald

2017 03 03 The_Brownsville_Herald_Fri__Mar_3__2017_

‘Auto-destructive art’ pioneer Gustav Metzger dies at 90


LONDON — Gustav
Metzger, whose concept
of “auto-destructive art”
inspired The Who’s Pete
Townshend to smash his
guitars, has died at age 90.

Publicist Erica Bolton
said Metzger died
Wednesday at his
London home.

Born to Polish Jewish
parents in Nuremberg,
Germany in 1926, Metzger
was one of thousands of
“Kindertransport” children
brought to Britain from
Nazi—occupied Europe in

1939. Most of his family
died in the Holocaust.

Metzger studied art in
Cambridge, London,
Antwerp and Oxford, and
also became politically
engaged, active in the
Campaign for Nuclear
Disarmament and the anti-
war group the Committee
of 100. In 1961, he was
briefly imprisoned with
philosopher Bertrand
Russell and other members
of the group for encourag-
ing civil disobedience.

In 1959, Metzger pro-
duced a manifesto for “auto-
destructive art,” which he
described as “a desperate

last-minute subversive
political weapon” against
capitalism and consumer—
ism. The idea was to meld
destruction and creation.

One artwork saw
Metzger applying acid to
nylon sheets so they disin—
tegrated — creating a
new View.

Townshend studied under
Metzger and has said the art-
ist inspired him to destroy
guitars onstage at the climax
of The Who’s 1960s shows.
Psychedelic projections by
the artist were used as a
backdrop during shows by
The Who and Cream.

Metzger said the seeds

of his art were sown in his
German childhood.
“When I saw the Nazis
march, I saw machine-
1ike people and the power
of the Nazi state,” he told
The Guardian in 2012.
“Auto—destructive art is to
do with rejecting power.”
Metzger used varied and
sometimes unconventional
materials in his work,
including paper, cardboard,
trees, chemicals and cars.
In 2004, London’s Tate
Britain gallery displayed a
Metzger installation that
included a bag of garbage.
A cleaner mistook it for
real trash and threw it out.