Tomma Abts

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Tomma Abts
Veeke, 2005
Born 1967 (age 46–47)
Kiel, West Germany
Nationality German
Known for Painting

Tomma Abts (born 1967) is a German-born abstract painter who won the Turner Prize in 2006.

Early life[edit]

Abts was born in Kiel in Germany and currently lives and works in London, England.


Abts works in acrylic and oil, often building up her designs from repetitive geometrical elements. Her style can be classified as abstract, but also in opposition to Germany’s Neo-Expressionist figurative painting.[1] None of her paintings are representational. There are no references to nature, the world or any other theme. The abstraction in her paintings is supported by the lack of detail and an overall retro feel. The paintings do not follow the traditional rules of abstract art though. They involve complex shapes that are layered and woven in different ways with added highlights, shadows and sense of depth.[2]

All of Abts’ paintings are 48 x 38 centimeters and the titles of her paintings are derived from a dictionary of German first names. She has said that this is the size and style that works for her.[3] Each work takes on a color scheme that is rich and somewhat neutral. The colors are not obviously vibrant and work with each other’s tones within each work of art.[4] Abts creates a 3D effect by continually and meticulously layering and working up each painting. The works are thickly painted, almost over-painted, which gives a hint of something created by trial and error. It seems as though the layers of paint could be covering up something underneath the finished product. “Abts approaches each canvas without preconception, building up layers of paint until a form crystallizes.”[5]

Turner Prize[edit]

Abts is the winner of the 2006 Turner Prize, awarded by the Tate in London.[3] The Tate Gallery has praised "her rigorous and consistent approach to painting" and added "Through her intimate and compelling canvases she builds on and enriches the language of abstract painting."[6] Abts is represented by greengrassi, London and by David Zwirner, New York.


Solo Exhibitions[edit]

  • habitat, Kings Road, London (1998)
  • greengrassi, London (2005, 2002, 1999)
  • Galerie Giti Nourbakhsch, Berlin (2004, 2001)
  • The Wrong Gallery, New York (2003)
  • Galerie Buchholz, Koln (2006, 2003)
  • Galerie Giti Nourbakhsch, Berlin (2009, 2004)
  • Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2005)
  • Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2005)[7]
  • Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Koln (2006)
  • Kunsthalle zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany (2006)
  • David Zwirner, New York (2008)[8]
  • New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2008)[9]
  • Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2008)[10]

Selected Group Exhibitions[edit]

  • Galerie neugerriemschneider, Berlin: “filmcuts” (1995)
  • 520 King Street West, Toronto: “Fast” (1996)
  • Norwich Art Gallery, Norwich: “The Vauxhall Gardens” (1998)
  • greengrassi, London: “Honey, I rearranged the collection” and “Origin of Parties” (2003, 1998)
  • Galerie Krinzinger, Wien: “Limit Less” (1999)
  • Spacex Gallery, Exeter: “Etcetera”(1999)
  • “Egofugal” 7th International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul (2001)
  • Alliston Skirt Gallery, Boston: “The Devil is in the Detail” (2001)
  • Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles: “Tomma Abts & Vincent Vecteau” (2002)[11]
  • Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Koln: "Quodlibet II," “Mullberg,"and “Richard Hawkins & Tomma Abts, Lecia Dole-Racio, Morgan Fisher, James Hayward” (2009, 2004, 2002)
  • Galerie Giti Nourbakhsch, Berlin: “Hot, Blue & Righteous” (2003)
  • Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt: “deutschemalereizweitausenddrei” (2003)
  • Lucky Tackle, Oakland, California: “Black Rainbow” (2003)
  • Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven: “journal #7” with Vincent Fecteau (2004)
  • Kunstverein Hamburg, Hamburg: “Formalismus. Moderne Kunst heute” (2004)
  • Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh: “54th Carnegie International” (2004–2005)
  • Hayward Gallery, London: (Wanderausstellung) “British Art Show 6” (2005)
  • 4th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art: “Of Mice and Men” (2006)[12]
  • 6th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai: “Hyper Design” (2006)[13]
  • Tate Britain, London: "Turner Prize: A Retrospective" (2007)
  • Moscow Museum of Modern Art: "Turner Prize: A Retrospective" (2007)
  • Mori Art Museum, Tokyo: "Turner Prize: A Retrospective" (2007)
  • David Zwirner, New York: "The Gallery" (2008)
  • 4th Tirana Biennial: The Symbolic Efficiency of the Frame, Tirana, Albania (2009)
  • Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany: "Slow Paintings" (2009)
  • CCS Bard Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-On-Hudson, New York: "At Home/Not at Home: Works from the Collection of Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg" (2010)
  • David Zwirmer, New York: "Stand still like the hummingbird" (2012)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Esplund, Lance (10 April 2008). "Shadow Play". New York Sun. Retrieved 14 October 2010. 
  2. ^ Johnson, Ken (11 April 2008). "Little Canvases That Contain Worlds". New York Times. 
  3. ^ a b "German painter wins Turner Prize". BBC News. 5 December 2006. Retrieved 16 April 2008. 
  4. ^ Esplund, Lance. “Shadow Play.” New York Sun 10 April 2008: 17.
  5. ^ "Tomma Abts". Carnegie International. Retrieved 16 April 2008. 
  6. ^ "Turner Prize 2006". Tate. 2006. Retrieved 14 October 2010. 
  7. ^ "Tomma Abts". Kunsthalle Basel. Retrieved 16 April 2008. 
  8. ^ Tomma Abts at David Zwirner
  9. ^ Tomma Abts at the New Museum of Contemporary Art
  10. ^ Tomma Abts at the Hammer Museum
  11. ^ Marc Foxx
  12. ^ Berlin Biennial
  13. ^ "Shanghai Biennale". Universes in Universe. Retrieved 16 April 2008. 

External links[edit]