Gustav Metzger. Remember Nature
From February 11 to May 14, 2017
Museum 2nd floor


Gustav Metzger. Remember Nature
Gustav Metzger, Mobbile, 2015, Mexico, Fundacion Jumex Arte Contemporano, Photographie Colin Swan

A retrospective of the last figures of the avant-gardes, committed from 1960 for the environmental cause and societal issues.

MAMAC dedicate an exhibition to Gustav Metzger, artist with an international career whose influence has grown these recent years. One of the most important artists of the post-war avant-gardes, he has contributed, at dawn of the 1960s, to the redefinition of art, exploring new methods of creating and anchoring its approach in societal matters and the major issues of his time. Like many artists of his generation, including New Realists, Metzger gives up with painting in 1959 and began to create artworks with everyday items such as cardboards, newspapers, plastic bags or industrial materials led to degrade.

The exhibition looks back on his early works through archives and installation art reenactment. It is also focus on one of the major and innovative aspects of Gustav Metzger work: his early involvement in environmental issues. Thus, in 1961, Metzger brings this ecological dimension in the context of his researches and declares in one of his manifestos: “Auto-destructive art demonstrates man's power to accelerate disintegrative processes of nature and to order them”. In 1970 for his work untitled Mobbile, Gustav Metzger operated for the first time an "arranged" car in the streets of London. A large transparent cube containing green plants is attached to the top of the car and directly connected to its exhaust pipe. The plants are thus asphyxiated by the emanations of polluting fumes. Metzger shows here the insane capacity of man to destroy himself. From this performance to the participatory installation called Mass Media: Today and Yesterday, that offered the visitor the possibility to make his own press review on extinction and ecology, Metzger incessantly invented shock actions and artistic forms to point out major contemporary environmental issues.

Relying on Gustav Metzger’s contributive spirit, the exhibition offers the opportunity to collaborate with various partners for the reactivation of works and the production of related events. Haunted, like many of his contemporaries, by mass destructions which World War II was the scene of, but also by the Cold War tension and the beginnings of the nuclear arms race, he wrote a first manifesto in 1959 on « Auto-destructive » art.
He then started a radical criticism on materials’ obsolescence and degeneration, and immediately made a parallel of these researches with western society’s fascination for destruction, and from 1960, with the devastation caused by humanity to nature. His researches were not unique : in 1960-61, Jean Tinguely realized his first auto-destructive machine-sculpture, Homage to New York, Arman started his famous « colčres », Niki de Saint-Phalle invented her subversive gesture of shootings on her canvas, meanwhile Gustav Metzger used acid that he applied on nylon canvases… It is the occasion of an unprecedented look at major works from MAMAC’s collection.

Gustav Metzger
Mass Media: Today and Yesterday, 1972-2017
Public-active installation
Newpapers, table, magnétic paint and magnets
Reenactment MAMAC, 2017
View of the exhibition « Gustav Metzger - Remember Nature »
Courtesy of the artist / Photo : Julien Véran / Ville de Nice

View of the exhibition « Gustav Metzger - Remember Nature »
MAMAC, Nice, France - 11 february - 14 may 2017
Courtesy of the artist / Photo : Julien Véran / Ville de Nice

View of the exhibition « Gustav Metzger - Remember Nature »
MAMAC, Nice, France - 11 february - 14 may 2017
Courtesy of the artist / Photo : Julien Véran / Ville de Nice