Bringing together more than 350 texts written between 1953 and 2016, this comprehensive volume establishes artist and activist Gustav Metzger (1926–2017) as one of the most towering figures of the 20th century, a long-overdue recognition of Metzger's influential vision. Renowned for his use of unstable materials and chemical reactions to create artworks that embody processes of change, destruction, and renewal, Metzger was also a prolific writer, theoretician, and satirist. His interest in technology and science lead him to create such concepts as auto-destructive and auto-creative art—terms he coined with his manifestos on “Auto-destructive Art” in 1959 and “Auto-creative Art” in 1961. He put these ideas into action with artworks made to decay, desintegrate or change following natural processes.
Edited by Gustav’s long-time friend and curator Mathieu Copeland, this anthology of writings makes Metzger’s essential thinking from the 1950s onwards available to a wide audience. It notably includes seminal writings such as his manifestoes of auto-destructive and auto-creative art (both 1961), his “On Random Activity in Material/Transforming Works of Art” manifesto (1964), “The Possibility of Auto-Destructive Architecture” essay (1966), his inspiring interview with R. Buckminster Fuller from 1970, “The Artist in the Face of Social Collapse” essay (1998), and his legacy manifesto entitled “Remember Nature” from 2013, as well as art criticism pieces, political lampoons, and lectures transcriptions, deploying his multifaceted thinking. All together, his writings allow a challenging reading of the contemporary (art) times as analyzed by one of his most discerning figures—a pioneering artist and thinker very early involved in environmental and societal issues.