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Michael Buthe: FREUNDE / FRIENDS
art information #3
21 pages, DIN A4, 200 examples, signed and stamped, mediacontact, Düsseldorf 1972 Print version

Michael Buthe friends coverMichael Buthe Selbstportrait

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ELISABETH, a girl-friend since 27 years
HEINRICH, ein Freund der mich lehrte, mit Hunden zu sprechen
SANYASIN, a friend who embodies happiness and beauty
STEFANO, the wonder, he looks the world through
BOB, a friend with a life dream
AZIZ MOULAY EL HARDY, the incarnation of cosmic sensibility
MARIETTE, a divine phenomenon
ANTONIO, cometa di fantastico
MICHAEL BUTHE, Self portrait
WILLIAM SPORGEN FUNDERBURG, a walker through the desert of roses
HARRY, an english friend who makes up wonderful stories
HANNELORE, le fleur of the green eyes
KALIK RANSOR DOE DEI, the man who showed me how to see people
KATHARINA, the goddess of the 25th hour
MICHEL, Gipsyboy
PABLO STÄHLI, he makes jokes and has a long nose
MARKUS RAETZ, Beauty - Silence

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Jean Christophe Ammann: MICHAEL BUTHE
in: Kunstforum, Cologne, Vol. 14, 1975 [in German]

Chronologically, Michael Buthe's work could be divided into three situations: Spaces - Stories - Travels. Thematically, these situations overlap, transparently merging into one another. The drawings from 1967-69 are almost all imaginary ground plans for spatial projects or are 'drafts' for torn cloths; what always presents itself as an 'autonomous' work, as a dimension of sensation directly transferred into the drawing, is - seen from the initial situation - the localization of a relational game, into which in each case the artist's own experiences, the 'stories' as Michael Buthe calls them, have an effect. Line progressions are directly movement and comprehension, are sensually felt as process and memory; objects included in the drawing are provoked 'disturbance' and consciously independent, expressing as cipher in and as object what is experienced. As long as Michael Buthe lived in the area of his studio, this also formed his world, and the many people who went in and out were its protagonists. The cloths, torn with tender aggression, later sewn and dyed with tenacious obsession, are a journey made in physical and psychological commitment within the material itself. Translated with (free version)

The first visit to Morocco in 1970 brings about the collapse of color. This sets the course for a very considerable change in the experiential character that Michael Buthe's work contains. The trip brings the spatial expansion, the color transforms the drawing, often takes its place, while retaining the intensity of meaning.

The work created since 1970 is now exclusively related to stays of several months in Africa (Benin) and Persia.

An eruptive form and color consciousness simultaneously processes sensory impressions under entirely new conditions.

'Journey' becomes a journey through myths; the 'stories' are the stories of demons, angels, gods and medicine men. Michael Buthe is close to them because they are always people whose realm of experience he makes his own. It might be important that Michael Buthe never uses the myth as a quotation, as a set piece as it were 'for a better future'. He experiences it through people and transforms it as reality, and this experiential capacity is also found in his work, as shown in the productions 'Le Dieu de Babylone' and 'Zarathustra'. Assembled materials certainly evoke a crocodile or a ship, but they are not indicative with a vicarious function, but are primarily sculptural entities in their own right, to which the function of a crocodile or a ship is assigned. The canvas stretched on a massive frame in a circular shape, covered with beeswax and densely dabbed with gold is picture/object and 'sun'; the huge cloths dyed red are painting and firmament, sky and living tent; a rectangular framework built of strong asia, covered with wax and rose petals is sculpture and bed. In other words, the designation of the objects takes place only from a context created by the artist and constitutively not inherent to the objects, even if they seem to fit seamlessly into it.

The temptation is great to join Michael Buthe's 'journeys' in words and imagination, but one also runs the risk of viewing the staging, objects and drawings - which themselves mark out a period of time in extensive groups - all too much under the aspect of his exuberant imagination; imagination that throws even the rather freely communicating mythologies off balance.

The work of Michael Buthe is primarily the convincing achievement of a creative intelligence, borne by a commitment that can by no means be taken for granted today.

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AMMANN, Jean-Christophe(Hrsg.): Joseph Beuys, Michael Buthe, Franz Eggenschwiler und die Berner Werk-Gemeinschaft (Konrad Vetter, Robert Waelti), Markus Raetz, Diter Rot. Ausstellungskatalog. Kunstmuseum – Luzern, Luzern 1970, DNB 577086480.

FRANKE, Marietta: Der absurde Blick. Künstlerische Entwicklungsfähigkeit. Spiritualität und Abstraktion bei Michael Buthe. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main u. a. 2010, ISBN 978-3-631-61278-1.

OSTERWOLD, Tilman (Hrsg.): Michael Buthe – Primavera Pompeijana. Edition Cantz, Stuttgart 1989, ISBN 3-89322-147-6.

GÖLTENBOTH, Natalie: Michael Buthe: Mein inneres Marrakesch. Hrsg.: Goethe-Institut. Juli 2016 (

HERZOG, Hans-Michael (Hrsg.): Michael Buthe – Frühe Zeichnungen, Collagen, Tagebücher, Ostfildern-Ruit und Bielefeld 1999.

KIER, Udo: Footprints, Köln und New York 1991

— —, KLAUKE, Jürgen; MÜLLER, Dominikus; ODENBACH, Marcel; ROSENBACH, Ulrike;
GRAEVENITZ, Antje von; WIESE, Stephan von:
Michael Buthe und Ingvild Goetz - eine Freundschaft. Ausstellungskatalog. Hrsg.: Ingvild Goetz, Karsten Löckemann, Leo Lencsés. Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern-Ruit 2016, ISBN 978-3-7757-4224-5.

KIRVES, Dietmar: Michael Buthe. Freunde. mediacontact, Düsseldorf 1971

PATERSON, Liberty (Hrsg.): Michael Buthe. Constellations. Alexander und Bonin, New York, und Sotheby's, London, 2020

RETROSPEKTIVE: Michael Buthe, Katalog Kunstmuseum Luzern 2015, ISBN 978-3-7757-4038-8

WIESE, Stephan von (Hrsg.): Michael Buthe. Skulptura in Deo Fabulosa. Silke Schreiber, München 1983, ISBN 978-3-88960-002-8.

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