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.Read More
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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