Selections from Gustav
Metzger, from Theories and Documents of Contemporary
Art: A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings, ed. Kristine
Stiles and Peter Selz (Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California
Press, 1996), pp. 401-4
art is primarily a form of public art for industrial
societies. Self-destructive painting, sculpture and
construction is a total unity of idea, site, form, colour,
method and timing of the disintegrative process.
art can be created with natural forces, traditional
art techniques and technological techniques.
amplified sound of the auto-destructive process can
be an element of the total conception.
artist may collaborate with scientists, engineers.
art can be machine produced and factory assembled.
paintings, sculptures and constructions have a life
time varying from a few moments to twenty years. When
the disintegrative process is complete the work is to
be removed from the site and scrapped.
|Gustav Metzger, "Auto-Destructive Art"(London,
4 November 1959), in Metzger at AA (London:
Auto-Destructive Art" (1960)
Man in Regent Street is auto-destructive.
Rockets, nuclear weapons, are auto-destructive.
The drop drop dropping of HH bombs.
Not interested in ruins, (the picturesque).
art re-enacts the obsession with destruction, the pummelling
to which individuals and masses are subjected.
art demonstrates man's power to accelerate disintegrative
processes of nature and to order them.
art mirrors the compulsive perfectionism of arms manufacture—polishing
to destruction point.
art is the transformation of technology into public
immense productive capacity, the chaos of capitalism
and of Soviet communism, the co-existence of surplus
and starvation; the increasing stockpiling of nuclear
weapons—more than enough to destroy technological
societies; the disintegrative effects of machinery and
of life in vast built-up areas on the person . . .
art is art which contains within itself an agent which
automatically leads to its destruction within a period
of time not to exceed twenty years. Other forms of auto-destructive
art involve manual manipulation. There are forms of
auto-destructive art where the artist has a tight control
over the nature and timing of the disintegrative process,and
there are other forms where the artist's control is
and techniques used in creating auto-destructive art
include: Acid, Adhesives,Ballistics, Canvas, Clay, Combustion,
Compression, Concrete, Corrosion, Cybernetics, Drop,
Elasticity, Electricity, Electrolysis, Electronics,
Explosives, Feedback, Glass, Heat, Human energy, Ice,
Jet, Light, Load, Mass-production, Metal, Motion picture,
Natural forces, Nuclear energy, Paint, Paper, Photography,
Plaster, Plastics, Pressure, Radiation, Sand, Solar
energy, Sound, Steam, Stress, Terra-cotta, Vibration,
Water, Welding, Wire, Wood.
|Gustav Metzger, "Manifesto Auto-Destructive
Art" (London, to March t960), in Metzger
at AA (London: Destruction/Creation, 1965).
Art, Machine Art, Auto-Creative Art (1961)
visible fact absolutely expresses its reality.
machine produced forms are the most perfect forms of
evenings sonic of the finest works of art produced now
are dumped on the streets of Soho.
art is art of change, movement, growth.
art and auto-creative art aim at the integration of
art with the advances of science and technology. The
immediate objective is the creation, with the aid of
computers, of works of art whose movements are programmed
and include "self-regulation." The spectator,
by means of electronic devices can have a direct bearing
on the action of these works.
art is an attack on capitalist values and the drive
to nuclear annihilation.
|Gustav Metzger, "Auto-Destructive Art, Machine
Art, Auto-Creative Art" (London, 23 June 1961),
in .Metzger at AA (London: Destruction/Creation,
everything everything everything everything
A world on edge of destruction. Objects become precious,
matter becomes subject to feeling of reverence. This
is an art form for artists. The mass of people appreciate
Modern art 50 years after its practice. This art form
will not be subject to this time lag since it is unlikely
that in so years' time there will be a world in which
to practice it.
An art of extreme sensibility and consciousness.
We take art out of art galleries and museums. The artist
must destroy art galleries. Capitalist institutions.
Boxes of deceit.
Events happenings. Artist can not compete with reality.
The increasing quantity of events, happenings. Artist
cannot integrate within himself all the experience of
the present. He cannot render it in painting and sculpture.
New realism. The most vital movement
now. However inevitably its course now is one of increasing
Nature imitates art.
New realism was a necessary step toward the next development
of art. The world in its totality as work of art. Including
New realism shows the importance of one object or relationship
between a number of objects. This obviously is the first
step to a large ensemble, the total relationship of
objects including the human figure.
You stinking fucking cigar smoking bastards and you
scented fashionable cows who deal in works of art.
There was a time when there were men
And men painted men and animals.
Then gods and kings came and men painted gods and kings.
Then men sat in carriages that moved over the earth
and men painted carriages.
And now men fly to the stars. And men paint flying to
At this moment in London millions of men millions of
objects millions of machines. Millions of interactions
each fraction of a second between men objects and machines.
Day and night inventors create new machines objects
that will be produced day and night.
The artist's entire visual field becomes
the work of art. It is a question of a new artistic
sensibility. The artist does not want his work to be
in the possession of stinking people. He does not want
to be indirectly polluted through his work being stared
at by people he detests.
The appropriation by the artist of
an object is in many ways a bourgeois activity.
An element of condescension, superiority to workman.
Profit motive—this is now worth xxxx franc because
I have chosen.
The artist acts in a political framework whether he
knows it or not. Whether he wants to or not.
The quantity of experience the artist
has to pack into a work is so vast now, it is not possible
to compress it all into the space of an object.
The acceptance, substitution of World is thus not an
escape from production.
The Door by Robin Page is the catalyst of the new aesthetic.
|Gustav Metzger, "MANIFESTO WORLD"
(10 June 1962), in Metzger at AA (London:
Random Activity in Material/Transforming Works of Art
major forms of art can be described as the drawing of
belief in molecular theory and related definable and
undefinable beliefs, intuitions, shared with scientists
and others, can best be stated by material/transforming
works of art. Auto-destructive art, auto-creative art
are forms of material/transforming works of art.
"draw"in any other manner would be to kill
the spirit and capture a mere fragment of the reality.
activity, and tangential problems of quality, are now
critical and productive problems in art.
activity of the work of art escalates an extension of
accepted (unproductive) concepts of art, nature and
all factors of a work are understood, each moment is
predictable. A great deal of "random" equates
with ignorance. The presentation of activity with the
minimum of ordering by the artist is belief at its maximum.
artist desires and achieves a certain form, rhythm,
scale: intends, and identifies with,all the transformations,
predictable and unpredictable, that the work is capable
a certain point, the work takes over, is in activity
beyond the detailed control of the artist, reaches a
power, grace, momentum, transcendence . . .
which the artist could not achieve except through random
|Gustav Metzger, "On Random Activity in Material/Transforming
Works of Art" (30 July 1964), in Metzger at AA
(London: Destruction/Creation, 1965).
page by Alan Liu, last rev.