Painting on fabric: torn and dyed fabric on wooden frame. Approx. 234 x 230 x 10 cm. Signed, dated, and titled 'Michael Buthe 1969 Ohne Titel' verso on fabric and wood respectively and with directional arrow and information. - Traces of studio and minor traces of age.
Cutting or tearing, or rather shredding of the fabric covering seems disrespectful and aggressive. The fabrics, batiqued in earth tones, stretched across each other on the canvas frame like delicate coloured layers of painted varnish, hang simply down like after a disaster, prove to be intentionally complete and will not be repaired! Prepared in preliminary drawings, Michael Buthe cuts or rather tears apart the groundwork of the prerequisite of traditional painting that has been valid for centuries. He experiments with the possibilites of a picture and with this gesture appears to come to the end of the genre that Laszlo Glouer once described as "leaving the picture".
This seems even more radical than the aesthetic, spontaneous cuts which Lucio Fontana uses to give the canvas a three-dimensionality and the viewer the curious possibility that they can see through to the space behind. Buthe's gesture can also be seen as a passionate response to Blinky Palermo's contemporaneous "fabric pictures"; industrially-coloured cotton strips sewn together and stretched across the frame thus confronting the process of painting itself with an astonishing variation.
Buthe's early fabric pictures featured in Harald Szeemann's legendary exhibition "When Attitudes Become Form" in Bern in 1969. His pieces are incorporated in the canon of equally radical works such as those by Richard Serra and his rubber bands hanging from the wall, the untreated shreds of wool after shearing the lambs attached to stele-like sticks by Jannis Kounellis, or the disorderly cut felt strips by Robert Morris.