Tomas Schmit, Zyklus für Wassereimer (oder Flaschen), aufgeführt beim Fluxuskonzert in de kleine komedie, Amsterdam 18.12.1963, Photograph Dorine van der Klei.

Tomas Schmit and the Early Fluxus Movement in Cologne

Tomas Schmit, Betende Haende, aus Vorzugsausgabe #17/50, 1994, © Nachlass Tomas Schmit.

Tomas Schmit, Dear Hogarth, aus Vorzugsausgabe #20/50, 1993, © Nachlass Tomas Schmit.


Museum Ludwig
+ 49/221/221-26165
Tomas Schmit:
Are Humans Capable of Thought?

April 21-June 24, 2007

The Fluxus pioneer and draughtsman Tomas Schmit died October 4, 2006 in Berlin. Throughout his life he wrote his own commentaries to his works in his catalogues.

The fourth and last volume of these artist’s books cum catalogue raisonée will appear posthumously in April 2007. To mark this occasion, Museum Ludwig has arranged an exhibition featuring some 150 drawings, books and editions covering 40 years of creative production.

The basis of Tomas Schmit’s work consisted in artistic reflection on scientific questions. The underlying topics of his texts and drawings present themselves in, for instance, questions about evolution, or brain and behavioral research, ort about perception.

Schmit tackled questions that that few scientists would dare to ask, such as: “How does a chameleon, know which color it should assume? How does a flounder, whose eyes peer upwards, know when the seabed has the same color as its scales?”

Schmit shows that a lot of what occurs in the world of animals, humans and plants is far more difficult and bizarre than appearances might suggest. His art has constantly sought to plumb the mechanisms of perception.

Tomas Schmit was born in 1943 in Wipperfürth close to Cologne. As a young man he traveled to Wiesbaden and George Maciunas and became part of the Fluxus movement. He became renowned for his seductively simple actions, such as his Zyklus for water-pails (or beer bottles or wine bottles etc) from 1962.

Schmit participated in almost all of the international Fluxus festivals, including the legendary action 24 Stunden (1965 in Wuppertal), and was involved in the organization of the Fluxus event 20. Juli, which was staged in 1964 at the TU in Aachen

In the early seventies he turned to writing and drawing, and to producing editions, series, books, and even a film entitled e-constellations (2004). In 2005 he published two audio CDs on which he reads his own texts.

Parallel to the exhibition at Museum Ludwig, the Cologne-based Galerie Michael Werner will be showing the exhibition nicht immer alles dazusagen!, which features two series of drawings by Tomas Schmit dating from 1999 and 2002 (18.04.-16.06).

Both exhibitions are accompanied by a catalogue. Schmit’s self-penned Katalog 4 is published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König.

Tomas Schmit: In jeder hinsicht unter und übertrieben, detail, 1992, © Nachlass Tomas Schmit.

Tellus, Audio Cassette Magazine #24, 60:00, Cassette curated by Barbara Moore, released by Harvestworks, 1990, (comes with Takako Saito’s Sound Box, 2 steel ball bearings inserted in the cassette holes, making rattling sounds when shaken), includes Tomas Schmit No. 13 [from Sanitas - 200 Theatre Pieces, 1962] (0:07).

Cover, Tellus #24. 1990.