An interview conducted with Gustav Metzger recorded in London, and presented by Pavilion in June 2014 at Harewood House, Leeds, and in April–May 2015 at the Hepworth, Wakefield.
This interview was initiated as companion research to Pavilion's project Follies of Youth which examines "lost" Yorkshire landscapes designed by 18th Century landscape architect Lancelot "Capability" Brown. Our conversation focused on Metzger's formative artistic experiences while living and working at in the Brown-designed landscape of Harewood House from 1943-44.
Gustav Metzger (b. 1926, Nuremberg) came to England through the Kindertransport scheme in 1939. From 1941-2, he studied carpentry at the ORT Technical College on Roseville Road in Leeds and in 1943-4 worked as a joiner at the Harewood Estate. During this time he developed 'a love affair' with Temple Newsam House where curator Philip Hendy installed the Leeds Art Gallery collection and staged a series of exhibitions by modern artists, including Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Paul Nash.
Having attended art school, on the advice of Henry Moore, Metzger published his Auto-Destructive Art Manifesto in 1959, shortly followed by his first public art demonstration at the Temple Gallery, London. In its destructiveness, his practice addresses the susceptibility of industrial society to catastrophic events. He has said, "Facing up to the Nazis and the powers of the Nazi state coloured my life as an artist."