Rosemarie Trockel (b. 1952)
two elements--knitted wool mounted on canvas
each: 79 x 61 1/2 in. (200.7 x 156.2 cm.)
overall: 79 x 123 in. (401.3 x 312.4 cm.)
(2)Executed in 1989. This work is the second of two artist's proofs aside from an edition of three.
Monika Sprüth Galerie, Cologne
Donald Young Gallery, Chicago
Skarsdedt Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Frankfurter Kunstverein, PROSPECT 89, March-May 1989, p. 197 (another example illustrated and exhibited).
Chicago, Donald Young Gallery, Rosemarie Trockel, April 1989.
Paris, Galerie Daniel Templon, Objet/Objectif, June-July 1989, pp. 84-85 (another example illustrated and exhibited).
Boston, The Institute of Contemporary Art; Berkeley, University Art Museum; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; Toronto, The Power Plant; Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Rosemarie Trockel, April 1991-May 1992, p. 101, no. 50 (another example illustrated and exhibited).
Munich, Goetz Collection, Rosemarie Trockel, May-October 2002, pp. 14 and 102 (another example illustrated and exhibited).
Cologne, Museum Ludwig and Rome, MAXXI - Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo, Rosemarie Trockel: Post-Menopause, October 2005-February 2006, p. 170 (another example illustrated and exhibited).
Sale room notice
Please note the overall dimensions are 79 x 123 in. (401.3 x 312.4 cm.)

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Alexander Berggruen
Alexander Berggruen

Lot Essay

Striking in appearance, challenging in concept, Untitled, 1989, is a work from internationally renowned German artist Rosemarie Trockel’s highly visible, widely exhibited and critically celebrated series of strickbilder, or “knitting pictures.” Made using the techniques of industrial manufacturing rather than by hand, the works in the strickbilder series constitute an influential body of work that Trockel began producing in the early 1980s, work that explores themes pertaining to feminism, artistic production, craft, mass production and notions of originality and uniqueness. In Untitled, the repetition of a deliberately restricted set of motifs across the landscape of the pictorial field bears affinities with and serves to comment on the strategies of both Minimalism and Pop Art. Further, Trockel’s works in this series share with Warhol an exploration of the links between art, consumer products and mass production techniques. The repeated abstract designs in Untitled suggest decorative patterns that might be found in an apparel item, but they also evoke technology, perhaps reminiscent of lines of computer code, machine-readable languages or other forms of text written in code. The intentionally limited color palette of black plus just two other colors further suggests the output of industrial manufacturing or printing processes. The rational grid structure of the current work heightens the correspondence with technology and dramatically contrasts with the home and craftwork associations of the textile material support.

Constructed from knitted wool stretched on canvas over a wood frame, in formal arrangement Untitled comments on oil painting as classically conceived, understood and valued. However, from that initial starting point, Trockel’s challenging, intellectual and conceptual art practice diverges from traditional art strategy in every respect. Trockel merges methods of industry with materials stereotypically associated with women and women’s work to comment on gender-based notions of art, work and social roles. Trockel’s wool paintings were conceived as a rejoinder to critical commentary suggesting that art created by women should remain outside the established fine art canon, and instead be relegated to the domestic realm of arts and crafts. She uses choice of materials as a strategy to comment on the male-dominated art world of the era from which Trockel emerged as an artist in the 1980s. Challenging clichés and prejudices about women’s art, one of the goals of Trockel’s practice is to explore the assumed hierarchy of artistic mediums.

Choosing to work with textile as material allows Trockel to explore the tension between stereotypical divisions between feminine connotations of craft versus notions of industrial production traditionally understood as masculine. By creating her art via computer-controlled processes, Trockel further explores these ingrained feminine/masculine assumptions. Trockel’s art practice suggests the influences of avant-garde art movements of the 1960s in their radical questioning of materials and strategies that have traditionally been used in the visual arts. The mass-produced origins of much of her work reflects Minimalism's use of industrial fabrication techniques in preference to hand work; Trockel’s choice of materials and iconography reflects the lineage of Pop Art in its concerns with serial production and preference for low culture themes and everyday materials.

Rosemarie Trockel emerged as an artist in a milieu where few women were acknowledged as artists of the first rank and where gender-based concepts tended to dominate discussion of artistic merit. Now she is considered among the most respected female artists working today, and her work among the most collectible of any contemporary artist. A practitioner working across a diverse range of media, it is difficult to associate just one particular style with her work, and art critics tend to discuss her contribution in regard to a set of persistent themes that can be identified across her entire body of work. These include the female role in society, commercial trademarks and symbols as social signifiers and decorative motifs, and a fascination with ethnographic and scientific studies. Her work critiques art-world hierarchies, genre categories and gender classifications as they manifest themselves in both the art world and in the larger society. Her reputation as an artist is international in scope. She has exhibited extensively throughout the United States and Europe. Trockel has also participated in several international biennials, and her work has been featured in multiple prominent art world publications. Her work has been awarded numerous prizes, including the 2011 Kaiserring, one of the most prestigious prizes for contemporary art, recognized and respected internationally. Her achievements have been celebrated in solo exhibitions around the world, and her creations are included in major museum collections, notably the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate in London. A true polymath of the art world, she has been described as “a latter-day Surrealist; a brilliantly material-and-process-oriented former Conceptualist; a sometime photographer and pioneer appropriation artist; a subversive anti-painting painter and a dedicated, nonideological feminist—as well as a keen-eyed, even greedy artist-curator” (R. Smith, “Connecting Kindred Spirits,” The New York Times, 25 October 2012).

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