Lot 106
  • 106

Rosemarie Trockel

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
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  • Rosemarie Trockel
  • Untitled
  • signed, dated 1987, and dedicated für Jürgen on the reverse
  • knitted wool on canvas
  • 120 by 35.5 cm. 47 1/4 by 14 in.
  • This work is unique.


Galerie Sprüth Magers, Berlin
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Exh. Cat., Cologne, Museum Ludwig, Rosemarie Trockel: Post-Menopause, 2005, p. 157, no. RT 0742, illustrated


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the overall tonality is slightly lighter in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Close inspection reveals a minute and unobtrusive pulled thread to the left extreme outer edge, approximately 40 cm. from the upper left corner. Further close inspection reveals some irregularities to the knitting, most notably to the upper left corner and towards the centre of the right edge, which are all characteristic of the artist's choice of medium.
"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

“Undoubtedly, the machine knitted wool pictures have been the Cologne artist's most prominent theme since the early 1980s... at the time, [Trockel] took a stance against the male-dominated art scene with her distinctive, superficially feminine implied procedure” (Kasper König, 'Foreword', in: Exh. Cat., Cologne, Museum Ludwig, Rosemarie Trockel Post-Menopause, 2006, p. 10).

Forming part of Rosemarie Trockel’s critically acclaimed Strickbilder or "knitted pictures", Untitled uses the artist’s unique trademark material to create a powerful contrast of built-up motifs and monochrome surface. In an exceptional and serene example from her seminal wool series, the present work scrutinises our visual cognition of material and its traditional connotations and production processes. Predominantly produced with digital symmetrical patterns and designed on a computer, Trockel masterfully subverts the traditional feminine associations of wool. Here, the fabrics are machine produced in diametric opposition to the culturally preconceived concept of knitting as a traditional handcraft for Western women. By juxtaposing a conventionally feminine occupation within the context of mass production, Trockel develops a complex dialogue touching upon questions of gender dominance, material sensibility, and capitalist production modes. As Sidra Stich aptly noted, these “are works that evoke the feminine but refute the usual ‘female’ detachment from ‘male’ modes of creativity and productivity.” (Sidra Stich in: Exh. Cat., Boston, The Institute of Contemporary Art (and travelling), Rosemarie Trockel, 1991, p. 12).

When Trockel first began to work with wool in 1985, she was already established as a key figure within the young German art scene. Her unique feminist sensibility and multi-faceted interrogatory practice, which eviscerates artistic hierarchies, genre categorizations and associated gender classifications, catapulted the artist to the centre of a critical artistic dialogue. Deeply influenced by fellow female artists such as Cindy Sherman, Trockel ventured to put at the centre of her art-making practice the unique concerns for feminist issues of social and cultural categorizations. The artist reflected on this period: “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 in conversation with Isabelle Graw, Artforum, March 2003). In a subversive transfiguration of the material, Trockel redefined the conventional use of wool and knitting, traditionally aligned with female craft. Trockel thus promotes the coexistence of contradictory artistic pursuits, whilst highlighting the established subordination and alleged inferiority of women.

Deeply influenced by the artistic approach of Joseph Beuys and the Mühlheimer Freiheit group, Trockel reacted to the artistic dialogues of these avant-gardists that redefined the proposition of art-making to extend beyond the traditional limits of the art world. Similar to Beuys, who incorporated unusual materials such as lead and felt into his works, Trockel’s appropriation of the domestic material of wool echoes this approach to alternative artistic media. Utterly innovative and experimental in her approach to art making, Rosemarie Trockel has redefined the parameters of painting by elevating the unusual material of wool to a signifier of metaphorical potency and aesthetic relevance.