We regret to inform you that Becoming Gustav Metzger: Uncovering the Early Years 1945-59 has now closed. 



Extensive online lecture and discussions on Gustav Metzger are bookable below.


The Ben Uri Research Unit (BURU), in partnership with The Gustav Metzger Foundation, is delighted to announce Becoming Gustav Metzger: Uncovering the Early Years (1945-59). This is the first museum exhibition to examine the little-known formative years of refugee artist and activist Gustav Metzger (Nuremberg, Germany 1926 - London, England 2017). The sixth in BURU's survey exhibitions highlighting the important contribution of Jewish and immigrant artists to British visual culture since 1900, the exhibition showcases some 40 rarely seen drawings and paintings from this crucial early period - the majority never previously exhibited - together with related archival material. Highlights include Metzger's Portrait of Frank Auerbach (c. 1952) and the large expressionist oils The Dissolution of the City (1946) and Eroica, Funeral March (1946), as well as early abstract works on board and cardboard, and a kodak box. Together they chart Metzger's artistic journey from figuration to abstraction prior to the development of his later radical auto-destructive practice.


Events will take place between Wednesday 28 April and Thursday 9 September 2021, starting at 6 pm (GMT).


Curatorial Introduction

28 April, 6-7pm (GMT)

Co-curators of Becoming Gustav Metzger, Uncovering the Early Years 1945-1959, Sarah MacDougall (Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, Director) will introduce Nicola Baird (Ben Uri Research Unit) and Leanne Dmyterko (The Gustav Metzger Foundation). Nicola will introduce the upcoming exhibition and online events programme and Leanne will discuss the work of the Gustav Metzger Foundation - its beginnings, aims and vision for the future - followed by a Q&A.


Prepare for the opening by understanding more about Metzger's oeuvre

12 May, 6-7pm (GMT)

Carina Plath (Deputy Director, Sprengel Museum, Hannover Germany) discusses the 'publicness' of Gustav Metzger's work, his early proposals for monuments and the idea of occupying space by artists, which later is resumed in sculpture projects such as Aequivalenz: Shattered Stones (2007), followed by a Q&A.



Opening event

15 June, 6-7pm (GMT)

Enjoy a virtual curatorial tour of the exhibition 'Becoming Gustav Metzger, Uncovering the Early Years 1945-59' by co-curators Nicola Baird (Ben Uri Research Unit) and Leanne Dmyterko (The Gustav Metzger Foundation).




Fritz Ascher Society Lecture

7 July 2021,12-1pm Eastern Time, 5-6pm (GMT)

Becoming Gustav Metzger curator, Nicola Baird (Ben Uri Research Unit) gives an online lecture to the Fritz Ascher Society, New York. Serving as an in-depth exploration of the early life and work of Gustav Metzger and a detailed discussion of Ben Uri’s exhibition, the lecture forms part of the Fritz Ascher Society’s monthly series “Flight or Fight: Stories of Artists Under Repression”. The Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracised and Banned Art was founded in 2014 by Director and CEO, Rachel Stern to research, discuss, publish and exhibit the work of artists adversely affected by the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945.To reserve a free place

Discussion panel

14 July, 6-7.30pm (GMT)

Andrew Wilson (Senior Curator Modern & Contemporary British Art, and Archives at Tate Britain) and Dr. Elizabeth Fisher (Leverhulme Research Fellow, Northumbria University) talk about the retrieval and re-discovery in 2010 and subsequent exhibition (at Documenta in 2012) of the early work as well as the relationship between ethics and aesthetics in Gustav Metzger's formative years, followed by a Q&A.

Inaugural 100,000 Newspapers Documentary Film Screening and Discussion with Director, Martin Pickles

21 JULY, 6-7PM (GMT)

Following the inaugural screening of 100,000 Newspapers, a film documenting Gustav Metzger's 2003 'public-active installation' and performances of the same name at the T1 2 Art Space, East London, Martin Pickles (Lecturer in Animation Theory at University for the Creative Arts, Farnham) discusses not only the genesis of the film but also his experiences of filming and interviewing the artist.

International panel explore the themes of ecology and activism in Metzger's oeuvre

28 July, 6-7.30pm (GMT)

A distinguished international panel explore the themes of ecology and activism in Metzger's oeuvre followed by an audience engaged Q&A. We welcome Pontus Kyander (lecturer at the Finnish Academy of Fine Art and curator of Gustav Metzger: Act of Perish, The Centre of Contemporary Art, Torun, 2015), Mathieu Copeland (independent curator and author of Gustav Metzger: Writings 1953-2016), and Daniela Perez (curator of We Must Become Idealists of Die, Museo Jumex, Mexico, 2015).


'On visiting Wittgenstein's grave with Gustav Metzger'

18 August, 6-7pm (GMT)

Writer and independent curator, Bronac Ferran addresses negation and its presence in Metzger's work contextualising her discussion by considering other artists and poets of the post-war period, followed by a Q&A.


Insights into Metzger's practice and life

9 September, 6-7pm (GMT)

Jo Joelson, artist, writer and co-founder of artistic duo London Fieldworks shares insights into Gustav Metzger's practice through experiences of collaboration, friendship and care. Joelson will discuss collaborative projects on which she worked with Metzger including: Null Object (2012) and the immensely influential, Remember Nature (2015), followed by a Q&A.

On your behalf Ben Uri thanks the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies and British Art for their generous support towards the publication and the events programme for this important exhibition.


Becoming Gustav Metzger, Uncovering the Early Years 1945-59 opens at Ben Uri Gallery and Museum (108a Boundary Road, off Abbey Road, London NW8 0RH) on the 16 June with social distancing and Covid 19 precaution best practice to the fore. Pre-booking will be necessary to guarantee time and dated visits.