The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
'Blauer Bunker' by the German artist Thomas Schütte is a scale model of a spherical bunker with a monumental staircase and a circular gateway as the front entrance. The whole work stands on a plate based on a wooden scaffold-like construction. The bunker has been painted an even bright blue. The plate is partly covered by blue lines of paint. There are three sheets of paper painted orange with simple plant-like shapes on the walls next to and behind the bunker.
'Blauer Bunker' looks like a model for a building that could be constructed, though Schütte made it as a sculpture. The object is a work of art, as it is exhibited and does not really serve as a model. Schütte made several of these sorts of architectural models. They are intended to be conceptual models, buildings with which Schütte asks questions about the function and position of art and the artist in our contemporary culture. A bunker is a safe place in times of danger, for people, but also for works of art. However, it is also a place where you are isolated from your environment. Because of the monumental entrance, Schütte’s bunker becomes a large and impressive building, such as a museum. It is also reminiscent of 18th-century utopian architecture in which the perfect spherical shape symbolizes perfection and the sublime. With this model, Schütte raises questions with regard to the institution of the museum. It is a safe place to keep art, but how accessible is a museum, both literally and metaphorically?
In Schütte’s model the threshold or entrance is very high and the sphere is literally inaccessible because there is no door. The entrance is an unreal entrance. The sheets of paper on the walls are in stark contrast to the bunker, orange versus blue, fragile nature versus powerful architecture. The presentation of both has a provisional character. The sheets of paper are only attached to the walls at the top, and the bottom is slightly curled over. The wooden construction on which the bunker is placed looks as though it has been very quickly put together and painted in a rather nonchalant way. Schütte provides us with a suggestion, a sketch, not a definitive answer.
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