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Guo Hongwei on Seeing Patterns That Don’t Exist Ocula Insight Guo Hongwei on Seeing Patterns That Don’t Exist Sherry Paik, New York

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HomePage Artists

b. 1961, Germany

Katharina Grosse Biography

In Katharina Grosse's practice, there is no distinction between painting, architecture, and sculpture; paint explodes beyond the traditional canvas onto walls, building exteriors, stretches of folded or draped fabric, objects, and even the landscape itself. Noted for her use of the spray gun to apply paint onto these surfaces, often in big sweeps that recall graffiti art, Grosse creates a sensorial encounter with colour, scale, and dimensionality.

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Grosse's early paintings from the 1990s—many of them untitled—often feature a single plane of colour on canvas. In one such artwork from 1996, the plane is divided into four roughly equal parts, respectively painted in green, blue, light brown, and brownish yellow (clockwise). It was around this time that Grosse began to paint directly onto architecture; in 1995 she painted sections of the walls at Telekomgebäude, Wesel, in red, blue, and various shades of yellow. Her first work made using the spray gun was Untitled (1998), for which the artist spray-painted dark green onto an upper corner of a gallery in the Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland.

Later, Grosse introduced soil and debris into her work, spraying paint over the various surfaces of the canvas, architecture, and surrounding environment. At her solo show Construction à cru at Paris' Palais de Tokyo in 2005, for example, she installed piles of soil along the white walls of the gallery, spray-painting them together with the nearby walls and floor. Grosse also made a painting onsite, purposely letting the saturated colours venture off the canvas onto the wall on which it was mounted. She moved the work when done, propping it against the same wall where the white negative space from its creation remained. In an interview with Ocula Magazine in 2019, Grosse explained that she paints over 'the border of objects and architectural settings in order to expand the area rather than close it off.' For the artist, borders are 'spaces of negotiations that have to be created again and again', and her works provide means to rethink the restrictive nature of those boundaries.

Over the past years, Grosse has experimented with creating immersive installations that respond to the architectural surroundings. For her participation in All the World's Futures, a group exhibition curated by Okwui Enwezor for the International Exhibition of the 56th Venice Biennale, Grosse transformed the Arsenale into a site-specific installation comprised of styrofoam sculptures, dirt, rocks, and long sheets of fabric falling from the ceiling. All were spray-painted, each gesture wild and sizeable. In The Horse Trotted Another Couple of Metres, Then it Stopped (2018), commissioned for Carriageworks, Sydney, more than 8,000 square metres of fabric was hung from the ceiling, the folds and twists of the material creating multiple dimensions, a forest of colours that seamlessly bled from the sky to the ground.

Grosse's paintings have come to adopt the urban and natural landscape as their canvases as well. In 2014, the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program commissioned Grosse to transform the scenery along the city's train tracks. Titled psychylustro, the artist spray-painted orange, pink, and green in graffiti-like gestures over weeds, piles of rubble, warehouses, and iron trestles, among other items. The borders of her colours encompassed both the interior and exterior of a building in 2016, when she spray painted an abandoned army aquatics facility in Fort Tilden Beach, New York. The project was a part of the 'Rockaway!' series, initiated by MoMA PS1 to celebrate the Rockaway Peninsula as it continues to heal after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Grosse splattered red and white paint over the ground immediately outside the building, as well as on and in the building itself.

Grosse's often monumental contemporary art installations stimulate an awareness of the human body and its scale in relation to its surroundings. Mumbling Mud (2019) saw the artist subdivide the massive space of chi K11 art museum—located in the basement of K11 Art Mall in Shanghai—into five sections, each centring around a large-scale installation. 'Underground'—the first zone and the entry into the exhibition—consisted of spray-painted building waste, soil, and urban detritus; 'Ghost' featured a gigantic white rock made of styrofoam, its horizontal slabs recalling the rocks from Chinese literati painting; 'Stomach' engulfed the visitors in its maze of fabrics hanging from the ceiling. Despite their bright colours, a sense of anxiety loomed in the works' colossal size and consistent reference to unending urban development in the contemporary world. In her interview with Ocula Magazine, Grosse said that 'with my painting, I seek to cause vehement agitation. I want the viewer to be so disturbed—positively or negatively—that they develop the wish to change something. I want to stimulate radical empathy.'

As well as monumental installations, Grosse still works on conventional rectangular canvases. She often employs cardboard and foam stencils to make these paintings, including the 16 large-scale works shown in her eponymous solo exhibition at Gagosian, New York, in 2017. Although Grosse reuses her stencils, the paintings that share similar or identical compositions appear pronouncedly different because she spray-paints in different colour schemes every time. In one painting, a seahorse-like form in shades of brown, blue, purple, white, and peach, with neon green around its edges, sits against a white background, while another painting made using the same stencil features a background of overlapping red, blue, and white. In another solo exhibition—Wunderbild at the National Gallery in Prague (16 February 2018–31 March 2019)—she used similar stencils to create fabric banners suspended from the ceiling.

Grosse has been a professor at the Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin (2000–2010) and the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (2010–2018). She lives and works in Berlin.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2019

Exhibition view: WestFarbe: Paint vs Colour, Two Rooms, Auckland (31 January–29 February 2020). Courtesy Two Rooms. 

Katharina Grosse Featured Artworks

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Ohne Titel by Katharina Grosse contemporary artwork
Katharina GrosseOhne Titel, 2019Acrylic on paper
120 x 89 cm
Sold
Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder
untitled by Katharina Grosse contemporary artwork
Katharina Grosseuntitled, 2019Digital print on silk
375 x 655 cm
Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder Enquire about this work
Untitled by Katharina Grosse contemporary artwork
Katharina GrosseUntitled, 2003Acrylic on canvas
350 x 297 cm
Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder Enquire about this work
Untitled by Katharina Grosse contemporary artwork
Katharina GrosseUntitled, 2019Unique acrylic paint layer on bronze
69 x 154 x 825 cm
Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder Enquire about this work
Untitled by Katharina Grosse contemporary artwork
Katharina GrosseUntitled, 2016Acrylic on canvas
39.4 x 75.4 cm
Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder Enquire about this work
No Title 3 by Katharina Grosse contemporary artwork
Katharina GrosseNo Title 3, 2011Original Lithograph (Printed on 250 g. Velin d’Arches paper)
39 3/8 x 27 9/16 inches
Gagosian Enquire about this work
No Title 2 by Katharina Grosse contemporary artwork
Katharina GrosseNo Title 2, 2011Original lithograph (printed on 250 g. Velin d’Arches paper)
39 3/8 x 27 9/16 inches
Gagosian Enquire about this work
Untitled by Katharina Grosse contemporary artwork
Katharina GrosseUntitled, 2017Acrylic on canvas
64 3/4 x 52 inches
Gagosian Enquire about this work

Katharina Grosse Current & Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, WestFarbe: Paint vs Colour at Two Rooms, Auckland
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31 January–29 February 2020 Group Exhibition WestFarbe: Paint vs Colour Two Rooms, Auckland
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, An Exhibition For Notre-Dame at Gagosian, Paris
Closed
11 June–27 July 2019 Group Exhibition An Exhibition For Notre-Dame Gagosian, Paris

Katharina Grosse Represented By

Katharina Grosse In Ocula Magazine

Katharina Grosse on Mumbling Mud in Shanghai Ocula Insight Katharina Grosse on Mumbling Mud in Shanghai Mikala Tai

In the summer of 2018, the K11 Art Foundation mounted a solo exhibition of German artist Katharina Grosse in Shanghai , bringing her immersive installations to China for the first time. Internationally acclaimed for a practice that boldly challenges viewers' perception of space, her playful work has been shown at institutions worldwide, from...

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Shanghai Art Exhibitions to See: The Lowdown Ocula Report Shanghai Art Exhibitions to See: The Lowdown Sam Gaskin

There is no official Shanghai Art Week, but the term has nevertheless entered the lexicon of the city's contemporary art community. It's especially apt this year, with the firmly established West Bund Art Fair (8–11 November 2018) and Art021 (9–11 November 2018) taking place the same week that the 12th Shanghai Biennale opens at the Power Station...

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A Report from Gallery Weekend Berlin Ocula Report A Report from Gallery Weekend Berlin Rachael Vance, Berlin

The 11th iteration of Gallery Weekend Berlin (1-3 May 2015) further strengthened the German capital’s standing within the contemporary art world. With forty-seven galleries in the official programme hosting new exhibitions, this year’s offering proved May is a particularly good month for art in Berlin. Museums and commercial...

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Katharina Grosse In Related Press

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MUMBLING MUD KATHARINA GROSSE Related Press MUMBLING MUD KATHARINA GROSSE 19 July 2019, ArtAsiaPacific

For Katharina Grosse's first solo exhibition in China, Mumbling Mud, the internationally acclaimed German artist aimed her spray gun at Shanghai's Chi K11 Art Museum, firing liters of paint across swatches of fabrics, piles of soil and spreads of furniture.

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TROUVÉ AND GROSSE AT THE VILLA MEDICI Related Press TROUVÉ AND GROSSE AT THE VILLA MEDICI 3 April 2018, Gagosian Quarterly

To juxtapose the work of Katharina Grosse and Tatiana Trouvé, artists whose directions are different but not altogether contrary in background, influences, and means, triggers new visual short circuits, frictions, and attractions at the Villa Medici, Rome. In their respective practices they share a fundamental interest in architecture. At the...

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'The Garden—End of Times; Beginning of Times' Related Press 'The Garden—End of Times; Beginning of Times' 10 July 2017, Art Agenda

The inaugural ARoS Triennial, The Garden—End of Times; Beginning of Times , opened in Aarhus, 2017's European Capital of Culture, on the morning that Donald Trump stood in the White House garden and announced his plans to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement. ARoS's director, Erlend Høyersten, promises that this exhibition 'will...

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The year in, and beyond, the galleries of New York: A relatively concise chronicle of highlights and a top 10 list Related Press The year in, and beyond, the galleries of New York: A relatively concise chronicle of highlights and a top 10 list 23 December 2016, ARTnews

Not so long ago, it seemed that new galleries would keep sprouting up forever in New York, and that existing ones would keep on expanding. Over the past 12 months, though, some have closed. Growth has slowed, sales are down, and people are nervous, especially in the wake of the disastrous U.S. presidential election. But all of that was belied by...

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