06 July – 03 October 2010

André Thomkins "strategy: get arts"

André Thomkins, Untitled (Labyr), around 1961
Dialogues – this is the form of presentation at the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein. For this purpose, the works of art are again and again arranged in new combinations with each other. Pleasure in the dialogue stands in the foreground.

The Swiss artist André Thomkins was born in Lucerne in 1930 and died in Berlin in 1985. This select presentation is the second to show works from the artist’s estate, administered by the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein. The works on view range from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Thomkins was a superb draftsman and watercolourist. His delight in experimentation went hand-in-hand with his study of the old masters and important artists of the 20th century like Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Hans Arp and Paul Klee. Early on, he was inspired by Surrealism and its strategies of exploring the unconscious and the personal. Thomkins had friends among the Fluxus artists and the Nouveaux Réalistes. Not only was he a visual artist, a maker of pictures and objects; he was also a word artist and an exponent of concrete poetry.

His work incorporates everyday materials like rubber, pictures and clippings from illustrated magazines, food, found pieces and traditional artistic means and techniques. His experiments with these materials led to humorous, fantastic works of a profoundly intellectual and playfully associative nature. The works highlighted in this exhibition are a cross between architecture and sculpture; they include his “Labyr” activities of the early 1960s and his weightless “schwebsel” or floating soul (Thomkins’ alter ego). They demonstrate his interest in nature and landscape as well as his ongoing preoccupation with the egg. Thomkins’ richly referential titles enlarge the reading of his works with delightfully witty and subtle precision.

Thomkins’ lightheartedness was not unclouded: his melancholy temperament and transcendental yearnings are revealed in early self-portraits and drawings. Asked in 1969 about his favourite place and condition, he replied, “Everywhere, but floating.”