Lot 219
  • 219

Rosemarie Trockel

140,000 - 180,000 GBP
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  • Rosemarie Trockel
  • Untitled (Homage to Bridget Riley)
  • knitted wool
  • 160 by 360cm.; 63 by 141 3/4
  • Executed in 1988, this work is from an edition of 2, plus 1 artist's proof.


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate although the light brown tends more towards beige in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. There is a very light scuff to the right edge towards the top right hand corner.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

One of the most influential and respected figures within the field of Contemporary art, Rosemarie Trockel's work has gained widespread international acclaim for its examination of a broad range of cultural issues, from sexuality and identity, to beauty and the nature of art. Best known for her iconic knitted works which she started to produce in the early 1980s, the first major survey of her work took place at the Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Bonn in 1985. This was followed in 1988 by solo shows at the Kunsthalle in Basel and at the ICA in London, and a contribution to group exhibitions at the Kunsthaus and Kunstverein in Hamburg, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.


Knitting has long been regarded as a women's craft. Taught to girls at school, it was traditionally regarded as a useful female skill until its decline in popularity during the 1980s due to the increased availability of low-cost machine-made clothing. A craft diminishing in popularity and practiced mainly by women in the domestic sphere is here elevated to an art form worthy of critical attention. Trockel's choice of medium thus presents the viewer with a tongue-in-cheek take on gender politics in general and the position of women in the arts in particular, as well as disrupting the traditional distinction between high art and the crafts. "In the '70s there were a lot of questionable women's exhibitions, mostly on the theme of house and home. I tried to take wool, which was viewed as a woman's material, out of this context and to rework it in a neutral process of production." (Rosemarie Trockel cited in conversation with Isabelle Graw, ArtForum, March 2003)


From unadorned wool works to those emblazoned with swastikas, hammers and sickles and Playboy bunnies, Trockel's work is always thought-provoking and challenges the viewer's perception of the function and limitations of art. This destabilisation of the notion of art can also be observed in the work of members of the Mulheimer Freiheit group, with whom Trockel was closely associated during the early years of her career: "They turned the myth of the artist on its head, doing things like making paintings together and promoting them as the work of one artist." (ibid.)


Within this context, Untitled (Homage to Bridget Riley) is emblematic of many of the themes raised in Trockel's oeuvre: it is inspired by the work of the grande dame of Op Art, one of the few female artists of her generation to have become internationally renowned. The present work provides an interpretation of Riley's characteristic black-and-white paintings. Softer in its mushroom-coloured tones and made of wool rather than acrylic on canvas, it creates a rich optical effect of its own through the visually interesting surface achieved by the tight-knit weave of the medium. This effect is heightened by the work's imposing size: which at 160 by 360cm. dwarfs the black and white optical paintings of Bridget Riley. This highly imaginative conceptual construct, created during Trockel's most fertile and important period, embodies her seminal artistic position and her work's ability to challenge prevailing male-orientated artistic systems in an ironic, humorous and provocative manner.