'Despite more than five decades of artistic work, Chris Reinecke is still largely unknown to a wider audience. This is partly due to the fact that institutions have been hesitant to discover her work so far. Chris Reinecke is one of Germany's ›most important living artists.' (H.-J. Hafner, FRIEZE 4/2017)Read More
Chris Reinecke's work in the 1960s was characterised by a participatory principle: it initiated open processes that made the public aware of the possibilities of their own actions and sensitised them to surrounding conditions. This was also intended to abolish the hierarchy between artist and audience. Her work sets groundbreaking precedents for exploring the relationship of individuals to their socio-political structure, illuminating working conditions and work processes, and questioning traditional gender roles. In 1968 she and her then husband Jörg Immedorff initiated the LIDL project in Düsseldorf, a loose association of artists who garnered attention for their political art actions. The LIDL project was soon characterised by increasing political radicalisation, while Reinecke and Immendorff moved ever further apart, both artistically and privately, and the group eventually broke apart. Reinecke withdrew from the art world and got involved in social projects such as Mietersolidarität in Düsseldorf. In the mid-1970s, Reinecke returned to object-based artistic practice and began focussing on painting. Her work still centres on the precise observation of the world around her, but in addition to political and social questions, natural and cultural studies have also grown in importance. In her classical role as a painter, her works became more personal and intimate. At the beginning of the 90s, her repertoire expanded to include sculptural objects and installations. In her paintings, Reinecke increasingly works with collage, which enables her to simultaneously process newspaper clippings, photographers, as well as her own notes and sketches. Eventually, she turned away from panel painting as a medium that limits both form and content. The resulting paper collages, some of them large in size, which make up an important part of her work today, combine painterly and conceptual approaches. They develop over the course of a long processes, sometimes over years, and are composed of different temporal and thematic contexts, which grow and become layered in all directions. This openness in form and content, the renunciation of stringent narratives in favor of free, associative moments, continues to challenge viewers to formulate their own point of view.
Chris Reinecke has never let her attitude become a posture. To this day, she has maintained a healthy mistrust of institutionalised systems–including not only socio-political systems but also those of the art establishment. She has consistently withdrawn her work from external expectations, appropriations, and demands. As a result of the uncompromising artistic freedom that she has created for herself, her work possesses a radical dimension to this day.
Chris Reinecke was born in Potsdam in 1936. After the war, the family ended up in Düsseldorf. In 1959 she then went to Paris and began studying at the École des Beaux-Arts, which she continued from 1961–1965 at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Karl Otto Götz and Gerhard Hoehme. With her actions and exhibitions, she became increasingly present in the Rhineland. From 1968, she was part of the LIDL collective with Jörg Immendorf and others, which also attracted international attention (Copenhagen, Antwerp). After withdrawing from the art scene during the 1970s, she would resume participating in individual and group exhibitions in Germany, Sweden, Japan, and other countries in the 1980s.
Works by the artist can be found in the collections of the Deutsche Bank, the Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf, the Museum Ostwall im Dortmunder U, and the Museum Abteiberg in Mönchengladbach.
Chris Reinecke lives and works in Düsseldorf.
Text courtesy Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art.