Olaf Metzel

Year of birth, place
1952, Berlin, Germany
Role at the ZKM
in the collection
Olaf Metzel was born in Berlin in 1952. He studied (1971-77) at the Freie Universität and at the Hochschule der Künste, both in Berlin. He has received many grants and awards, including a DAAD stipend and one from the Kunstfonds, Bonn, and has also won many prizes, including the Villa Massimo Prize (1987), the 'Arnold-Bode-Preis' awarded by the city of Kassel (1994) and the 'Kunstpreis der Stadt Darmstadt' (1996). Since 1986 he has held many teaching positions; and since 1990, has held a professorship at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich, from 1995 serving as Rector of this institution. He lives in Munich. 

The spatial dimension is crucial in almost all of Metzel's work. Inside demolition objects (buildings) he creates large concrete sculptures and attacks them with circular saw, mortice chisel and crowbar, some of his aggressive interventions being recorded by a video camera mounted on the circular saw. In his large sulptures and both indoor and outdoor installations, Metzel incorporates objects such as rubbish skips, metal crowd barriers, and camouflage netting or sections of seating from sports stadia. Often combining such elements into towering, truly monumental structures, he calls into question traditional concepts of the monument. In his concrete sculptures he bestows an alien quality on motifs such as oak leaves and wrought iron by enlarging, miniaturizing, combining or duplicating them. Metzel's work as a draughtsman, in which both objective and abstract motifs occur, embraces work in pencil, watercolour, ink, and both oil and acrylic paint on a variety of supports (the latter including graph paper and tracing paper) and also extends to collage using materials such as reworked or added photographs. The often strong public response to much of Metzel's work is to some extent explained by the extremely provocative themes that it dresses. Most of these relate to current political developments and their impact on the life of the individual - xenophobia, squatting in empty properties, terrorism, violence exerted by representatives of the state, the effects of the increasing development of electronic and chemical technology and the manipulative power of the mass media. Throughout, violence, and the destruction implicit in it, are the central motifs and, simultaneously, Metzel's most important working method. In an art world still dominated by the tendency to assess an artist's work in terms of its status an enduringly valuable object for sale, Metzel is able to call into question his own work and artistic practice in general by an act of destruction. 

Individual exhibitions (selection)
1981 Skulptur Böckhstr. 7, 3. OG, Berlin
1982 Kunstraum, Munich
1984 daadgalerie, Berlin
1985 »Flaschen und Nummern«, Galerie Fahnemann, Berlin
1989 Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Cologne
1990 Produzentengalerie, Hamburg; »Zeichnungen 1985-1990«, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster, subsequently at Kunstraum, Munich; Institut für moderne Kunst, Nuremberg
1992 Kunstverein Braunschweig (with Ulrich Görlich); subsequently at Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg; Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden
1994 Galerie Daniel Fusban, Munich; Produzentengalerie Hamburg; Kunstverein, Kassel
1995 daadgalerie, Berlin; Kunstverein, Ludwigsburg
1996 Goethe-Institut, London; Galerie Reckermann, Cologne; Brandenburgische Kunstsammlungen, Cottbus; Ackerstr. 18, Berlin; Kunstbau, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich; Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg
Group exhibitions (selection)
1981 »Bildhauertechniken«, Kunsthalle Berlin; »Situation Berlin«, Galerie d'Art Contemporain des Musées de Nice, subsequently at Kunsthalle Wilhelmshaven
1982 »Känsla och Hardhet«, Kulturhuset Stockholm
1983 »Künstler-Räume«, Kunstverein, Hamburg; subsequently at Montevideo Diagonale, Antwerp
1984 The Biennale of Sydney, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; »Von hier aus«, Messegelände, Düsseldorf
1985 »Kunst in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland«, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin
1986 Jenisch-Park Skulptur, Hamburg
1987 »Skulpturenboulevard Kurfürstendamm Tauentzien«, Berlin; »1961 Berlinart 1987«, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; documenta VIII, Kassel; »Skulptur. Projekte in Münster 1987«, Münster
1988 »Zeichnungen der Moderne«, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin; »In Between and Beyond: From Germany«, The Power Plant, Toronto
1989 »Blickpunkte«, Musée d'Art Moderne de Montréal
1990 The Biennale of Sydney, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
1991 »Metropolis«, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin; »Das Goldene Zeitalter«, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart
1992 »Sammlung Block«, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen
1993 »Strange Hotel«, Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus
1994 »da-zwischen. Zeitgenössische Kunst in Deutschland«, Centre Albert Borschette, Brussels, subsequently at Kunstsammlung Gera, Haus am Waldsee, Berlin; »Das Jahrhundert des Multiple«, Deichtorhallen Hamburg; »The Day After Tomorrow«, Centro Cultural de Bélem, Lisbon; »Burnt whole«, Washington Project for the Arts, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
1995 »Auf Papier. Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts aus der Deutschen Bank«, Schirn Kunsthalle, Franfurt/M, subsequently at Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig; »Westchor Ostportal«, Galerie im Marstall, Berlin, subsequently at Kunsthalle, Dresden, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn; »New Orient/ation«, 4. International Istanbul Biennal, Istanbul
1996 »Quo vadis«, Museum Fridercianum, Kassel; »Face à l'Histoire«, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; »Museum Vitale«, Museum Schloss Morsbroich, Leverkusen
1997 Hamburger Kunsthalle, Galerie der Gegenwart, Hamburg; »Skulptur. Projekte in Münster 1997«, Münster; »Deutschlandbilder«, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin

[Konstanze Thümmel, 1997]