Lot 32
  • 32

Rosemarie Trockel

Estimate
1,000,000 - 1,500,000 GBP
Sold
1,148,750 GBP
bidding is closed

Description

  • Rosemarie Trockel
  • O.T. (Made in Western Germany)
  • knitted wool mounted on canvas

Provenance

Monika Sprüth Galerie, Cologne

Private Collection, Italy

Christie’s, London, 11 February 2014, Lot 66 (consigned by the above)

Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

Berlin, Daimler Contemporary, Private/Corporate III, April - July 2005, pp. 7, 11 and 47, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown) 

Cambridge, Massachusets, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Made in Western Germany, Revisiting German Art of the 80s, 2006 (edition no. unknown) 

Literature

Exh. Cat., Cologne, Museum Ludwig, Rosemarie Trockel: Post-Menopause, 2005, p. 166, illustrated (edition no. unknown)

Catalogue Note

A minimal composition of seemingly endless repetition, O.T. (Made in Germany) is paradigmatic of Trockel’s trademark Strickbilder. The artist embarked on this iconic body of work in the mid-1980s, bringing a stereotypically feminine sensibility to Joseph Beuys’ socialising of art as a project for reform. Her poetic, handmade aesthetic draws upon a gendered female universe that seeks to blur and transgress the distinct dichotomies established in a male-dominated society by dealing with the personal/universal, intimate/societal and the concept of the handmade versus machine-made. Her elevation of a traditionally feminine material to the status of a work of art, not only defies traditional artistic codes, but simultaneously undermines established ideals and outdated gender politics. A landmark work from this seminal corpus, another example of O.T. (Made in Germany) is held in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Embedded in the deep green background of the present work is the repeated phrase 'Made in Western Germany'; a pattern of letters that appear like a stream of computer code. Reiterating a poignant export phrase of the time, just two years before the collapse of the Berlin wall, the use of the word 'western' as opposed to 'west' deliberately transforms the obvious interpretation into a multivalent one and reflects the socio-political concerns of that moment in history. As outlined by Sidra Stich: "Devoid of emotion, the assemblages of Trockel's works are a woven referential interchange of conflicting concerns and struggles, and her poignant references are either the product of the ideological, political or physical propaganda icons that are banal signifiers of our everyday lives" (Sidra Stitch, Ed., Rosemarie Trockel, Munich 1991, p. 34).

Born and raised in West Germany, Rosemarie Trockel emerged as a principle figure on the German art scene in the early 1980s. Having studied at the Werkkunstschule in Cologne, an institution heavily influenced by Joseph Beuys, in the late 1970s Trockel’s celebration of the quotidian material of wool mirrors Beuys disdain for the conventional hierarchy of artistic mediums. Patterning this unorthodox material with computer generated motifs and phrases, Trockel highlighted the consumer driven, hyper-mediated social environment of the time, and thus also alludes to Andy Warhol’s pioneering appropriation of consumer culture in iconic works, such as his Campbell's Soup paintings. In taking on the legacy of her male forebears Trockel nonetheless subverted their artistic precedent for divergent ends. Trockel took up key feminist issues concerning cultural categorisation and in doing so rallied against preexisting patriarchal structures. 

In a subversive conceptual transfiguration, Trockel redefined the conventional use of wool and knitting, traditionally aligned with female craft. Stretching tactile, thick knitted fabric onto frames like conventional canvases, she dared to align this inferior 'craft' with the venerated tradition of painting. Designed on a computer, these machine-generated ‘knitted paintings’ combine the seemingly disparate domains of craft, art, and industrial production. Thus, to quote Sidra Stich, “they are works that evoke the feminine but refute the usual ‘female’ detachment from ‘male’ modes of creativity and productivity” (Sidra Stich, ‘The Affirmation of Difference in the Art of Rosemarie Trockel’ in: Exh. Cat., Boston, The Institute of Contemporary Art (and travelling), Rosemarie Trockel, 1991-92, p. 11). Heralding the value of her process without suggesting a hierarchical supremacy, Trockel promotes the coexistence of contradictory artistic pursuits, and presents the viewer with a universally resonating artwork that is neither superior to, nor exclusive from, gender constructs.

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