Pete's Blog

Gustav Metzger 1926-2017



“Gustav was the most gentle man you could meet. Courteous, kind and attentive, he was also tough, determined and an activist until the end.

I misunderstood his manifesto when I was young. He had taught that artists should stop creating pretty or beautiful art for those we today describe as the ‘Elite’ (he once called them the ‘Bourgeoisie’). Art should instead reflect the way we are destroying our world. So I nearly got it right with my guitar smashing. He was never angry, or violent – but very powerful. Unlike me, he was never coldly disconnected in his destructiveness.
In the last 25 years Gustav became one of the most active protesters against unnecessary air travel. He said that polluting the air to go and look at paintings in some distant country was a bad thing for art. Wait for the art to come to you. (Oh bugger! More touring!)
The essential message that Gustav ended up with was eloquent, and although way ahead of his time, very in tune with what we all feel today. He stated that we are replacing Nature with what we call ‘The Environment’.
This is key. We speak about protecting our environment, but Gustav reminded anyone willing to listen that true Nature is what future generations will miss. He used a harshly extreme analogy. He said that Nature is an unspoilt river or woodland. Environment is Disneyland. Both are kind to human beings, but one is entirely man-made in an attempt to allow us to engage what Nature might give is without discomfort or danger.”
Pete Townshend
2 March 2017