HA Schult, born Hans-Jurgen Schult on June 24, 1939 in Parchim, Mecklenburg is a German installation, happening and conceptual artist known primarily for his object and performance art and more specifically his work with garbage.
The son of film director Kolin Schult, HA Schult studied art at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 1958 to 1961, where he was a student of Georg Meistermann, Joseph Fassbender, Karl Otto Götz and Joseph Beuys. At that time, he was mainly inspired by three artists: Yves Klein, Georges Mathieu and Jackson Pollock
From 1962 to 1967 he worked as an art director for a German bank and some industrial companies. From 1967 to 1978 he lived as an artist in Munich and has also performed a range of diversified jobs over time, including a spell as a taxi driver. During the late 1970s Schult lived in Cologne and from 1981 to 1986 chiefly in New York City.
Schult has been situated in Cologne since 1990. He was married to Elke Koska for 25 years, who also served as his muse - she was also (and still is) his manager. Since 2001, Schult's personal advisor has been Birgit Fröhlich.
Field of art
Trash is an artistic material for Schult, as paint is for painters. The artist calls himself a Macher, a German word that can mean a "maker" or "worker." He has also been called the German Christo for the epic scale of his work. A pioneer of environmental awareness, he is one of the most ardent proponents of the new ecological consciousness. Art historian Jens Christian Jensen wrote about Schult: "I do not know another German artist who grasps his tasks so comprehensively, no one who has such a sense of feeling for the essence of our society. In HA Schult the gap has been closed, that has been for 200 years between art and the general public."
In 1969, Schult was arrested for covering a street in Munich with trash and paper, a happening he called Situation Schackstrasse. In the same year and during the early and mid-1970s, he produced Biokinetic Situations, exhibited at the Museum Morsbroich in Leverkusen and the documenta V in Kassel, installed either on the floors of the museums or within large vitreous display cases. Many of these "situations" shown in over-dimensional glass show cabinets are miniature landscapes consisting of trash, small children’s playthings and bacteria, thereby promoting the archeology of an anticipated future. As these works were both inspired by the romantic painting of Caspar David Friedrich and the modern age of consumption and waste, German critics bestowed Schult the title "Caspar David Friedrich of the consumption age."
• Der Müll des Franz Beckenbauer: In 1974, Schult stole the contents of the waste containers of the famous footballer, Franz Beckenbauer and presented what he had found in the Lenbachhaus, Munich.
• Venezia vive: In 1976, the artist filled St. Mark's Square in Venice with old newspapers in an overnight action that surprised the Venetian people and authorities. He called this happening Venezia vive.
• Crash: As his contribution to the 1977 documenta VI, he hired a stunt pilot to crash a Cessna into the garbage dump on Staten Island, New York. This happening, which was sent via satellite to the screens in Kassel, he called Crash.
• Now!: In 1983, he created a paper river in downtown New York, using old issues of the New York Times and called this happening Now!
• The Flügelauto (winged car) is a car as a golden bird. Created in 1991 as part of the performance “Fetisch Auto” (Fetish Car) in Cologne, this work of art is now displayed on the roof of the Kölnische Stadtmuseum (Museum of the City of Cologne). Citing the protection of historic monuments, Franz-Josef Antwerpes, the former District President of Cologne, demanded the removal of the car but the competent ministry decided that the artwork could stay in place “temporarily” - it has remained there to this day.
• Trash People (Schrottarmee): Since 1996, Schult has installed one thousand life sized "Trash People" made from crushed cans, electronic waste and other rubbish as his critical commentary on constant human consumption. They travelled as a "now time expression" to the world's most important spots, among them Moscow's Red Square (1999), the Great Wall of China (2001), the Pyramids of Giza (2002) and even the Antarctica (2008). The value of each individual statue is approx. EUR 2 when burnt, according to GEW, a provider of gas and electricity services.
• Hotel Europe: In 1999, at Cologne-Bonn airport autobahn, Schult realized "Hotel Europe," an empty multistory building covered with 130 oversize portraits of celebrities. It was referred to as the world's largest sculpture until it was blown up on May 13, 2001.
• Trees for Peace (“Friedensbäume”): HA Schult decorated the birch trees on the premises of the Zollverein coal mine in Essen with thousands of painted, written and photographic wishes for peace.
• Love Letters Building: In 2001, the artist created his "Love Letters Building" in Berlin-Mitte by covering the front of the old Berlin Postfuhramt (post office) with hundreds of thousands of love letters.
• AutoDom: In 2006, together with fifteen Ford-Werke AG apprentices in Cologne, Schult created the "AutoDom" sculpture, using parts from Ford Fiesta and Ford Fusion cars to build a symbolic bridge between Cologne and New York City.
• Save the Beach: In 2010, Schult created the world’s first hotel made of garbage in order to raise awareness to the huge amount of waste being washed up on our shores. According to the artist, “The philosophy of this hotel is to expose the damage we are causing to the sea and the coastline. We live in the era of trash and we are running the risk of becoming trash ourselves. Do we really want this world?”