Destroy and you create: Gustav Metzger in King's Lynn celebrates the town’s connections with radical political artist Gustav Metzger (1926-2017), who lived and worked in King’s Lynn between 1953-1959. This exhibition will feature paintings and drawings made by the artist during that period, including works that had been considered lost until very recently, when a cache of drawings were discovered in a loft in London. The exhibition will also include archival material relating to Metzger’s political activism and involvement in local issues and events at that time.
Metzger’s years spent in King’s Lynn were a hugely important period in the artist’s life. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Metzger studied under the artist David Bomberg and exhibited with the Borough Group. But in 1953 he left the group, causing a rift with his early mentor. He withdrew from art-making, left London, and came to King’s Lynn, where he earned a living as a dealer in second-hand books and furniture.
However, Metzger never lost sight of what was happening in the art world. He organized several exhibitions at 30 Queen Street, showing work by Eduardo Paolozzi, William Turnbull and local artist and Wiccan Monica English as well as posters produced by artists for ‘This is Tomorrow,’ a ground-breaking exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, London in 1956. He also gradually returned to making work, experimenting with materials and processes during this period; he started painting with oil and emulsion paint on reinforced plastic or mild steel and abandoned brushes in favour of applying paint with a palette knife or his fingers.
Destroy, and you create: Gustav Metzger in King’s Lynn is curated by Dr Lizzie Fisher and supported by Arts Council England, Norfolk County Council, the East Anglia Art Fund and King’s Lynn Arts Society.