Michael Hutter: The Nightmarish Sensuality of a Contemporary Bosch
Marijn Kruijff
13 min

Michael Hutter: The Nightmarish Sensuality of a Contemporary Bosch

13 min

In film the color red is used to denote passion, danger or power. It is the color of extremes, a warning, used to contrast with its surroundings, and to draw the viewer’s attention. Red is also the eye-catching color the German painter Michael Hutter (1963) uses in the hellish visions on his detailed canvases.

The Triumph of Flesh

At thirteen, he had a revelation when he saw a lexicon including surreal scenes that his mother had bought as a birthday present for someone in their family. He was immediately taken by it, and wanted to make this himself. Mentioning Hieronymous Bosch as an influence is inevitable. Hutter’s ‘The Triumph of Flesh‘ (Fig.1, 2 and 23) strongly reminisces Bosch’ iconic triptych ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights‘, produced five centuries ago. His triptych refers to the New Testament (Matthew 26:41) that states: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Fig.1. ‘Der Triumph des Fleisches (The Triumph of  Flesh)‘ (2008)

Fig.2. Detail of the right panel of the triptych ‘The Triumph of Flesh‘ (2008)

Hokusai’s ‘Waves

If we take a closer look at his work, many other influences surface both European and Oriental varying from the Flemish Renaissance painter Pieter Brueghel the Younger, the Surrealists, tarot cards but also Indian Moghul art (Fig.3, 14 and 18) and the Japanese art of ukiyo-e (Hokusai’s Waves see Fig.13).

The Cruelest Book

In an earlier interview Hutter states ‘I think influence is overrated. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants,’ but later admits that his biggest influences can be found in pornographic and macabre literature. Classic writers like Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert W. Chambers, Clark Ashton Smith and so on. Also, very important is the Bible (maybe the cruelest book he has ever read), the fairy tales of the Grimms, Mervyn Peake’s “Gormenghast”, and he is also a  great admirer of Thomas Ligotti.

Fig.3. ‘Kopulation (or The Cuckold)‘ (2014) (Source: kunstkrake.wordpress.com/)

Colorful Characters

The unique universes he creates (a feast for the eyes) are populated by a plethora of colorful characters; such as cheeky male figures wearing harlequin hats (making love to a limbless female body – Fig.6) or plague masks (Fig.21 and 22), and Lincoln-like men wearing high top hats (Fig.13 and 15). Hutter is clearly not enamored by the church. Clergymen and other representatives of the Church are depicted as foolish fat men, or as creatures in deformed slug-like guises (reminds me of Jabba the Hutt – Fig.20), with their gasping lackeys represented as monkeys (Fig.17 and 23).

Larva-like Beings

The threat comes from crab-like aliens, human-like wild boars, larva-like beings, scary deep sea creatures that seem to be inspired by the angler fish, a shapeless blob except for a massive tooth-filled mouth and beady eyes (Fig.13, 21, 25 and 26), and the Grim Reaper (Fig.4).

Traditional Techniques

Most of his oil paintings are done in a very precise three layer technique, and he prefers traditional techniques like oil, tempera or watercolor. His ink drawings are made with a dipping pen and his graphic works are mostly etchings. In this respect, Hutter’s working method also bares similarities with the art of his colleagues from the American Lowbrow art movement. They also use traditional methodologies from art history.

Fig.4. ‘Der Tod belauscht ein Liebespaar (Death, eavesdropping on lovers)‘ (2006)

michael hutter death is watching

Fig.4a. Earlier B&W variation (2004)

Gaspar Noé

What appeals to me personally about Hutter’s paintings is that it reminds me of the work of Gaspar Noé (1963). This subversive French director, notorious for his films full of brutal violence and sex, also uses green and red as the defining primary colors in his films. In reviews on Noé’s work, critics often refer to Bosch, his Enter the Void (2009) is somewhere described as ‘Hieronymous Bosch daubed in neon’ and Climax (2018) as ‘Decadent, sexy and delirious like a painting by Jeroen Bosch.’

Fig.5.  Scene from Gaspar Noé’s ‘Irréversible‘ (2002) (Source: premiere.fr/)

“Existence is a Fleeting Illusion”

Also I came across philosophical quotes of each of them that display a similar point of view on life; “Existence is a fleeting illusion” by Gaspar Noé and “I consider truth to be an illusion” by Michael Hutter. Off course, there are also many differences, Hutter’s work always includes strong surrealistic fantasies while Noé relies mostly on realism. But it is interesting to see that they both share some decisive sources.

As you are used to from us, the paintings below have been selected based on their sensual aspects (in this case the darker subconscious one!)…

Fig.6. ‘The red Room‘ (2008)

Fig.7. ‘Symbiosis‘ (2009)

Fig.8. ‘Alien sex‘ (2011)


Fig.9. ‘Alien Sex

Fig.10. ‘Die Alienamme (Alien Nurse)‘ (2006)

Fig.11.  (2014)

Fig.12. ‘Lady with fur stole

Fig.13. ‘The Taming of the Leviathan‘ (2015)



Fig.16. ‘Babylon, handing the Key to the Abyss to the Kings of the World‘ (2012)

Fig.17. Detail of the painting ‘Babylon, handing the Key to the Abyss to the Kings of the World ‘ (2012)

Fig.18. ‘In the park‘ (2015)

Fig.19. ‘Games in Purgatory ‘ (2007)

michael hutter seekoenig

Fig.20. ‘Seekoenig (Sea King)

Fig.21. ‘The Gondola‘ (2020)

Fig.22. Watercolor  ‘At the River

Fig.23. Detail of ‘The Triumph of Flesh

Fig.24. (2013)

Fig.25. ‘Little Dancer

michael hutter little dancer

Fig.26. ‘Little Dancer‘ (2017)

michael hutter erotic surrealism

Fig.27. Oil on woodpanel ‘Nightmare at sea 

michael hutter

Fig.28. Another version of ‘Nightmare at sea 

michael hutter art

Fig.29. Detail of the painting entitled ‘Lot presenting his daughters to the citizens of Sodom











Michael Hutter

Fig.35. (2008)

juggler of the Apocalypse Michael Hutter

Fig.36. Work in progress ‘Juggler of the Apocalypse‘ (2021)

Juggler of the Apocalypse' Michael Hutter

Fig.37. ‘Juggler of the Apocalypse‘ (2020)

the bath Michael Hutter

Fig.38. ‘The Bath‘ (2020)

Eden Michael Hutter

Fig.39. ‘Eden‘ (2019)

the pit Michael Hutter

Fig.40. ‘The Pit‘ (2021)

Squidgirl Michael Hutter

Fig.41. ‘Squidgirl

Squidgirl Michael Hutter 2020

Fig.42. ‘Squidgirl‘ (2020)

A dangerous Crossing Michael Hutter

Fig.43. ‘A Dangerous Crossing‘ (2021)

watercolor Michael Hutter

Fig.44. Watercolor for “The Labyrinth of false Prophecies”: “Death, eavesdropping on Lovers” (18 Sept 2021)

alien nurse Michael Hutter

Fig.45. ‘Alien Nurse‘ (2021)

Lemurenhaus Michael Hutter

Fig.46. ‘Lemurenhaus‘ (Aug 2021)

The Meteors come down Michael Hutter

Fig.47. ‘The Meteors Come Down‘ (July 2021)

Little Demon Michael Hutter

Fig.48. ‘Little Demon I‘ (2021)

michael hutter Nude with a Hippo

Fig.49. 'Nude with a Hippo ' (2022)

Nude study, original oil painting (2023) by Michael Hutter

Fig.50. Nude study, original oil painting (2023)

dy, orWatercolor coming from the book The Very Amazing Cosmic Puppet Theatre by Michael Hutter

Fig.51. Watercolor coming from the book The Very Amazing Cosmic Puppet Theatre (2024)

The Chariot - (2023) original oil painting by Michael Hutter

Fig.52. The Chariot - (2023) original oil painting by Michael Hutter

The Chariot - (2023) original oil painting by Michael Hutter detail

Fig.52a Detail

Michael Hutter erotica

Fig.53. Invasion VI (2022)

Michael Hutter erotica detail


Satan presenting his daughters (2022)

Fig.54. Satan presenting his daughters (2022)

michael hutter (watercolor 2022

Fig.55. Watercolor (2022)

Aliennurse, The Shrine michael hutter

Fig.56.  'Aliennurse, The Shrine' (2018)

Aliennurse, The Shrine michael hutter detail


The following video features many other works by Hutter…

In this recent video you can follow the artist working on a new painting…

This third video examines Hutter’s masterpiece ‘The Triumph of Flesh‘ in detail…

Click HERE to check out our fascinating interview with the artist….!!

You can support the artist for only $1,- per month on Patreon…!!

Photo source Fig.1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 16 and 18: kunstkrake.wordpress.com/

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