Homage to the Starving Poet, 1951 (oil on canvas)
Gustav Metzger was born in 1926 in Nuremberg. His parents were orthodox Jews, and nearly all his relatives were murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War. He was saved by the Refugee Children Movement in 1939 and brought to England. Twenty years later he gave his first individual exhibition entitled Three Paintings by G. Metzger in a London café. Metzger performed his famous Liquid Crystal Projections in the 1960s at concerts of the bands The Cream and The Move in London. His lectures inspired Pete Townshend to smash his guitar on stage. Yoko Ono is among his admirers.
A founder member of the Committee of 100, led by the philosopher Bertrand Russell, and which was dedicated to opposing nuclear war and weapons of mass destruction, Metzger took part in demonstrations and was on one occasion sent to prison in Staffordshire for one month. He has cited William Blake as a life-long influence on his art.
Although dedicated to ‘the starving poet’, the three disintegrating figures in Metzger’s deliberately sub-fusc triangular composition (reproduced above) were perhaps inspired by the Crucifixion scene in the Isenheim Altarpiece, painted by the German Renaissance painter, Matthias Grünewald (1470–1528).
I could be wrong, but why leave it to me? Why not head along to Tate Britain in Pimlico and see for yourself!