b. 1952, Germany

Rosemarie Trockel Biography

Rosemarie Trockel is a German conceptual artist known for her subtle social and cultural critiques across sculpture, collage, ceramics, and knitted paintings. Her works often subvert traditionally feminine practices by recovering their materials and mediums to generate new associations.

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Early Years

Trockel was born in Schwerte, Germany. She studied Anthropology, Mathematics, Sociology, and Theology, as well as Fine Art, at the Werkkunstschule of Cologne, at a time when the influence of Joseph Beuys was very strong.

In 1983, Trockel exhibited for the first time at Monika Sprüth's women-only gallery in Cologne.

Rosemarie Trockel Artworks

Referencing Pop art, minimalism, and modernist abstraction, Rosemarie Trockel's paintings, installations, and sculptures recover materials and mediums commonly associated with feminine labour to address the patriarchal dominance of the art world.

Rosemarie Trockel: Knitted Works

Trockel became known for her machine-knitted wool paintings in the mid-1980s. The monochrome compositions incorporate traditional knitting patterns, like stripes and checks, beside speech bubbles, Playboy bunny logos, and trademarks reading 'Made in West Germany'.


In the same years, Trockel worked for the magazine Eau de Cologne in collaboration with artists like Jenny Holzer, Louise Lawler, and Cindy Sherman. Three issues were published by gallerist Monika Sprüth with a specific focus on the works of women artists.

Titled Post-Menopause, the artist's 2005 retrospective at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne was named after the wool painting Menopause (2005). The survey challenged both the notion of aging artworks and retrospectives, while proclaiming a continuation of feminist art and knitted paintings.


Equally witty and observant, sculptures like Schizo-pullover (1988), a grey wool sweater with two neck holes, offer playful commentaries that draw from social and cultural symbols and existing material associations, at once provoking and propelling the imagination.

A similar subversion of the domestic, Trockel's 'hot plates' transformed electric cooker hot plates into wall reliefs modelled after speakers and record players. Minimalistic in colour and shape, the resulting patterns paid homage to the dotted canvases of established Pop artists.

Book Drafts

The series 'Book Drafts' gathers over 200 drawings and collages that were made between 1978 and 2003 as an antidote to procrastination. Most take the form of a book cover, sometimes with pages inside, while others are simply decorated with a title graphic, a drawing, photograph, or a photocopy of found images.

With emphasis on design and formal characteristics, 'Book Drafts' is a collection of 'associative thoughts' that carried the artist through creative blockages, with witty titles like Spiral Betty, referring to American artist Robert Smithson's 1970 land art sculpture, Spiral Jetty.

This act of collecting, re-ordering, and re-writing inherent to Trockel's process can be noted in later works like CLUSTER II — Prisoner of Yourself (2015), an assemblage of digitally reconfigured photographs that form a visual diary of the artist's previous exhibitions.

Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos

Trockel's 2012 presentation at the New Museum in New York, A Cosmos, juxtaposed 30 years of the artist's works with artefacts from different eras and cultures, including objects from non-professional artists, echoing Trockel's interest in collapsing the distinction between high and low art.

Awards and Accolades

Trockel is the recipient of the 1989 Ströher Prize; the 1991 Fruhtrunk Prize; the 1992 Konrad von Soest Prize; the 1998 Günther Peill Foundation Prize; the 1999 International Art Prize, Kulturstiftung der Stadtsparkasse München; the 2001 Culture Prize, Cologne; the 2004 Wolfgang Hahn Prize; the 2010 Peter Weiss Prize; and the 2014 Roswitha Haftmann Prize.

Trockel also represented Germany at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999 and taught at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 1998 to 2015.


Rosemarie Trockel's works have shown widely in Europe, the U.K., Asia, and the United States.

Select solo exhibitions include Nick and Vera Munro, Hamburg (2020); Sprüth Magers, Berlin (2017); Gladstone Gallery, New York (2017); Tirana National Art Gallery (2017); David Roberts Art Foundation, London (2016); Goethe Institut, Mumbai (2015); Cahiers d'Art, Paris (2014); Serpentine Gallery, London (2013); Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid (2012); and Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh (2011).

Select group exhibitions include Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg (2020); Kunsthal Rotterdam (2020); 58th Venice Biennale (2019); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2019); Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Miami (2017); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2017); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2016); SMAK, Ghent (2015); Barbican Centre, London (2015); Power Station of Art, Shanghai (2014); and documenta 13, Kassel (2012).

Elaine YJ Zheng | Ocula | 2022

Rosemarie Trockel Featured Artworks

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The Mystery of Malpica by Rosemarie Trockel contemporary artwork sculpture
Rosemarie Trockel The Mystery of Malpica, 1992 Wool, life belt, white-red, pink plexiglass box
100 x 100 x 25 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire
59 Likes by Rosemarie Trockel contemporary artwork photography, print
Rosemarie Trockel 59 Likes, 2015/2021 Digital print on paper, plexi frame
Sprüth Magers
Happy Valentine by Rosemarie Trockel contemporary artwork painting
Rosemarie Trockel Happy Valentine, 2021 Oil on canvas
Sprüth Magers
White Hope by Rosemarie Trockel contemporary artwork painting
Rosemarie Trockel White Hope, 2021 Oil on canvas
Sprüth Magers
CLUSTER II - Prisoner of Yourself by Rosemarie Trockel contemporary artwork print
Rosemarie Trockel CLUSTER II - Prisoner of Yourself, 2015 19 digital prints on paper mounted on forex, framed
240 x 452 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire
Louvre 2 by Rosemarie Trockel contemporary artwork sculpture, ceramics
Rosemarie Trockel Louvre 2, 2009 Ceramics, multi coloured, glazed, platinum
72 x 72 x 29 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire
What - If Could - Be by Rosemarie Trockel contemporary artwork painting
Rosemarie Trockel What - If Could - Be, 1990 Wool (beige-black) on canvas, plexiglas frame
150 x 155 x 3 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire
Sunday Prayer by Rosemarie Trockel contemporary artwork textile
Rosemarie Trockel Sunday Prayer, 2015 Acrylic wool
80 x 100 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire

Rosemarie Trockel Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Rosemarie Trockel Represented By

Gladstone Gallery contemporary art gallery in 515 West 24th Street, New York, USA
Gladstone Gallery Brussels, New York, Seoul
Sprüth Magers contemporary art gallery in Berlin, Germany
Sprüth Magers Berlin, London, Los Angeles, New York

Rosemarie Trockel In Ocula Magazine

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