Kai Althoff

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Kai Althoff
BornFebruary 1966
Stylemultimedia art

Kai Althoff (born 1966 in Cologne) is a German visual artist and musician.

Life and work[edit]

Kai Althoff was born in Cologne, Germany in February 1966. He is a multimedia artist and a painter. Borrowing from moments of history, religious iconography, and counter-cultural movements, Althoff creates imaginary environments in which paintings, sculpture, drawing, video, and found objects commingle.[1] Tapping a multitude of sources, from Germanic folk traditions to recent popular culture, from medieval and gothic religious imagery to early modern expressionism, Althoff’s characters inhabit imaginary worlds that serve as allegories for human experience and emotion.[2] His image bank and painterly style also draw on the past, especially early-20th-century German Expressionism, reconfigured by introducing collaged technique.[3]

Much of Althoff's work is collaborative. For the 4th Berlin Biennale, Althoff and Lutz Braun created the site-specific installation Kolten Flynn, made up of three vitrines draped in red foil and full of a child’s paintings, drawings, pens and other abandoned materials.[4] Along with Yair Oelbaum, he conceived the dramatic play There we will be buried (2010), which debuted in 2011 at the Dixon Studio in Southend-on-Sea in Essex, England. For their U.S.-premiere performance at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the pair portrayed the show’s main characters, Orpah and Lydia, two single mothers searching for a lost daughter.[5] In Die Kleine Bushaltestelle (Gerüstbau) (Little Bus Stop [Scaffolding], 2012) Althoff performed alongside fellow artist Isa Genzken in a 70-minute absurdist comedy shot on home video.[6]

Althoff's work has been included in several books listing contemporary artists, such as Art Now, published by Taschen. He is also a musician, releasing solo work under such monikers as Fanal, Engelhardt/Seef/Davis Coop. or Ashley's. He and Justus Köhncke perform as Subtle Tease, and he co-founded the band Workshop with Christoph Rath, Stefan Mohr and Stephan Abry.[7]

Althoff is represented by Gladstone Gallery in New York, Galerie NEU in Berlin, and Michael Werner Gallery in London.


Althoff has been the subject of solo exhibitions worldwide, including Kaiki at Focal Point Gallery in Southend-on-Sea in 2011; Kai Althoff in 2008 at Vancouver Art Gallery[8];Kai Althoff: Ich meine es auf jeden fall schlecht mit ihnen[9] in 2007 Kunsthalle Zürich[10]; Kai Althoff: Kai kein Respekt (Kai No Respect) in 2004 at Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston[11] and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago[12]; Immo[13] in 2004 at Simultanhalle, Cologne[14]; Kai Althoff and Armin Kraemer[15] in 2002 at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig; and Heetz, Nowak, Rehberger in 1997 at Museo de Arte Contemporanea USP, São Paulo. From 18 September 2016 through 22 January 2017, Kai Althoff: and then leave me to the common swifts was on view at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 2014, a solo exhibition, Kai Althoff, was presented at Michael Werner Gallery, London.

Current group exhibitions include Invisible Adversaries: the Marieluise Hessel Collection, Center for Curatorial Studies, Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson and Identity Revisited, The Warehouse, Dallas in 2016; Avatar and Atavism: Outside the Avant-Garde, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf in 2015; Not Yet Titled, Museum Ludwig, Cologne in 2013.

Selected Group Exhibitions[edit]

Aperto 93, Venice Biennale, Stand Schafhausen, Venice, 1993

E, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, 1993

Wild Walls, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1995

Wunderbar, Kunstverein, Hamburg, 1996

Time Out, Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Nuremberg, 1997

Home Sweet Home, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, 1997

Ars Viva 98/99, Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig; Brandenburgische Kunstsammlungen, Cottbus; Portikus, Frankfurt, 1998

German Open. Gegenwartskunst in Deutschland, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, 1999

Vom Eindruck zum Ausdruck, Grasslin Collection, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, 2001

Neue Welt, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, 2001

Drawing Now: Eight Propositions[16], Museum of Modern Art in New York City, 2002

Chère Paintre, Liebe Maler, Dear Painter[17] at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, 2002,

A Perilous Space at Magnani in London, 2003

Lieber Maler, male mir and Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 2003

Venice Biennale, Museo Correr, Venice, 2003

Painting in Tongues at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2006

Heart of Darkness: Kai Althoff, Ellen Gallagher and EdgarCleijne, Thomas Hirschhorn at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2006

Make Your Own Life: Artists In & Out of Cologne, Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, 2007

Life on Mars at Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, 2008

Between Art and Life: The Painting and Sculpture Collection, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, 2009

Compass in Hand: Selections from the Judith Rothschild Foundation, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2009

Mapping the Studio: Artists from the Francois Pinault Collection, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 2009

Brandon Stosuy and Kai Althoff: Mirror Me, DISPATCH Projects, New York, 2009

Beyond | In WNY, Alternating Currents, Albright Knox Triennial, New York, 2010

At Home/Not At Home: Works from the Collection of Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg, Bard Center for Curatorial Studies and Hessel Museum of Art, New York, 2010

A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance, Tate, London, 2012

The Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2012[18]


  • 2008: "Artist: Kai Althoff, Life on Mars: 55th Carnegie International". blog.cmoa.org. Archived from the original on February 9, 2012. Retrieved 2016-10-25.


  1. ^ Kai Althoff and Nick Z: We Are Better Friends For It, May 5 - June 16, 2007 Barbara Gladstone, New York.
  2. ^ Kai Althoff: Kai Kein Respekt (Kai No Respect), September 25, 2004 – January 23, 2005 Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  3. ^ Kai Althoff, Untitled (2002) Phillips, Contemporary Art Part I, 28 February 2008, London.
  4. ^ Kai Althoff, November 8, 2008 - February 15, 2009 Vancouver Art Gallery.
  5. ^ 2012 Biennial Residencies: There we will be buried Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
  6. ^ Artists' Film Club: Isa Genzken, 13 December 2012 Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.
  7. ^ Kai Althoff, November 8, 2008 - February 15, 2009 Vancouver Art Gallery.
  8. ^ "Vancouver Art Gallery". www.vanartgallery.bc.ca. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
  9. ^ "Kai Althoff | Kunsthalle Zürich". kunsthallezurich.ch (in German). Retrieved 2018-01-12.
  10. ^ "Kai Althoff | Kunsthalle Zürich". kunsthallezurich.ch (in German). Retrieved 2018-01-12.
  11. ^ "Kai Althoff: Kai kein Respekt (Kai no respect) | icaboston.org". www.icaboston.org. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
  12. ^ "Kai Althoff: Kai Kein Respekt (Kai No Respect)". MCA. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
  13. ^ "SIMULTANHALLE - RAUM FÜR ZEITGENÖSSISCHE KUNST". simultanhalle.de. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
  14. ^ Kai Althoff: Blümli (period, paragraph, Blümli), January 15 - March 5, 2011 Barbara Gladstone, New York.
  15. ^ Braunschweig, Kunstverein. "Kunstverein - Braunschweig - Rückblick". www.kunstverein-bs.de. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  16. ^ "Drawing Now: Eight Propositions | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  17. ^ "Cher Peintre..., Lieber Maler..., Dear Painter..." (PDF). Communiqué de Presse Centre Pompidou.
  18. ^ "Michael Werner Gallery". Michael Werner Gallery. Retrieved 2018-01-14.


  • Michael Bracewell, Peter Doig, Romeo Klein and Helena Morell, Kai Althoff: Recent Paintings, Michael Werner (2015), ISBN 9781938809187
  • Kai Althoff, Kai Althoff: and then leave me to the common swifts, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2016), ISBN 9781568980836

External links[edit]