Michael Buthe Retrospective

As an adventurous traveller, Michael Buthe (1944-1994) was always looking for new stimuli. Starting from a basis in German informal painting and American Minimal Art, he was particularly enthralled by non-European cultures. He introduced a distinct sensuality as a counterpart to the cool ideas of Minimalism. He became engrossed in both spiritual and social issues. “To me, my sun, like all images, is an object to be used to see, to feel, to dream and to understand something.” This is how the artist describes his key motif. He assembles the whole world, the whole cosmos, in vivid colours or radiant gold, in the circle of this celestial body. Buthe’s work is characterised above all by an unprecedented artistic freedom. This makes him uniquely relevant, not only to the generations of artists that came after him, but also more broadly.

This retrospective includes archaic-looking assemblages, works on paper in bright colours and intensively worked screens, collages and paintings. The installations, whose sumptuousness and tactility appeal to all the senses, also make Buthe’s three-dimensional work tangible. There was an extensive exhibition of Buthe’s work at the MHK, the forerunner of S.M.A.K., in 1984. For that show he created the installation ‘Taufkapelle mit Papa und Mama’, one of the highlights of the S.M.A.K. collection and also of this new exhibition.