Lot 18
  • 18

Rosemarie Trockel

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
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  • Rosemarie Trockel
  • Balaklava Box - Uniqum
  • signed
  • woolen balaklavas and five mannequin heads in plexiglass cabinet
  • 34.5 by 154 by 32cm.
  • 13 5/8 by 60 5/8 by 12 5/8 in.
  • Executed in 1986-1990, this work is unique.


Galerie Monika Sprüth, Cologne
The Joshua Gessel Collection, Tel Aviv
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 1995


Glasgow, The Third Eye Centre; Inverness, Museum and Art Gallery; Stirling, Smith Art Gallery and Museum; Ayr, McLaurin Art Gallery; London, Imperial War Museum, Camouflage, 1988, n.p., no. 17, illustrated
Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, Life Size: A Sense of the Real in Recent Art, 1990, illustrated in colour
Berlin, Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (NGBK), Außerhalb von Mittendrin - Ausstellung, 1991
London, Tate Gallery; Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie & Württembergischer Kunstverein; Tübingen, Kunsthalle; Hamburg, Deichtorhallen; Vienna, Bank Austria Kunstforum, Sammlungsblöcke. Stiftung Froehlich, 1996-97, p. 128, no. 240, illustrated in colour
London, Tate Modern, on temporary loan, May 2000 - May 2006


Deborah Drier, 'Spider Woman,' in: Art Forum, Vol. 30, September 1991, p. 118, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Created between 1986 and 1990 and on extended loan to the Tate Modern, London since 2000, Rosemarie Trockel's Balaklava Box - Uniqum stalked the dying embers of Germany's Segregation and is profoundly charged with layers of political and emotional complexity. Unlike the edition of balaclavas which are presented flat-packed, the present unique example is the sole work from the knitted balaclava series to be presented on mannequin heads in a display case, a configuration which enhances its visual clout. Locked in situ within a plexiglass tomb reminiscent of Jeff Koons' minimalist vitrines, five mysterious heads confront the viewer in threatening lateral uniformity, striking a disturbing equilibrium. Darkly mysterious slits serve as windows into black cavities, whose unfathomable recesses are deeply disquieting. By concealing identity, the balaclava emanates secrecy and functions as a potent symbol of intimidation.


Having studied at the Werkkunstschule in Cologne from 1974-78, Trockel began making her highly innovative and immediately recognisable knitted works in the early 1980s. Adopting a skill inherently wrapped up with traditions of femininity, she exploits the machinery of expectation to undermine prejudice. In addition to gender politics, her work comments on the anonymity of mass production and the banality of merchandising through the act of repetitive seriality. It also engages the power of icons and marketing: here the catastrophically significant swastika is pitched against the smutty cheeriness of the Playboy bunny. Finally, her work is overtly political: the enigmatic ovoids of Balaklava Box - Uniqum manifest the sinister power of anonymity while ironically wearing the gaudiness of super brands. This neatly predicts the collapse of the Soviet Union and the surging pre-eminence of opportunistic capitalism, as well as composing a scathing historicism. 


Balaklava Box - Uniqum was made during a period of prodigious success for the artist, which had started with the first major survey of her work in 1985 at the Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Bonn. This was followed in 1988 by solo shows at the Kunsthalle in Basel and at the ICA in London, and contribution to group exhibitions at the Kunsthaus and Kunstverein in Hamburg, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. As this exceptional example of her oeuvre perfectly illustrates, Trockel's work remains confrontational, captivating, and universal. The tension spawned out of complex and original juxtapositions generates a spectrum of reactions. She manipulates the clichés of female domesticity through the knitted surface, and yet the appeal of her work is truly global.