Rosemarie Trockel

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Rosemarie Trockel
Ausstellungsplakat „Artistenmetaphysik".pdf
Born (1952-11-13) 13 November 1952 (age 64)
Schwerte, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Awards Wolf Prize in Arts (2011)

Rosemarie Trockel (born 13 November 1952) is a German artist and an important figure in international contemporary art. She lives and works in Cologne, and teaches at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.

Early life and career[edit]

Trockel studied from 1974 to 1978 at the Werkkunstschule, Cologne, which was then heavily influenced by Joseph Beuys.[1] In the early 1980s, she came into contact with the Mülheimer Freiheit (1979-1984), a Cologne-based group of painters that included Walter Dahn and Jiří Georg Dokoupil, and she exhibited at the Cologne gallery of Monika Sprüth, who at that time showed only women artists.[2] In a German art scene dominated by male stars like Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, and Georg Baselitz, her subversive leanings soon pegged her as an enfant terrible. She addressed issues of sexuality, feminism, and the human body, and also questioned the hierarchy of systems: political, social, and even aesthetic.[3]


Though Trockel has consistently resisted an explicit stylistic signature,[4][5] certain recurring themes weave throughout her oeuvre, most notably notions of female identity and feminism, the disjunction between fine art and craftsmanship, and the varying presence or anonymity of the artist traceable in a physical object.[6]

From 1970–1978, Trockel addressed contemporary concerns, particularly women and their place in the art world. Her work challenged concepts of sexuality, culture, and artistic production.Her installations and sculptures are often at a large scale, defying stereotyped notions about "women's" art. In the 1980s, she had important solo shows in the United States, for example at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York.[7]

Rosemarie Trockel: Less Sauvage than Others (Weniger wild als andere) (2006)

Wool has been considered one of Trockel’s signature materials since she first utilized the medium to create a series of machine-knit wool works in the 1980s.[8] Trockel's "knitting pictures", produced in 1985, consist of lengths of machine-knitted, woolen material stretched onto frames.[7] The material is patterned with computer-generated geometrical motifs, or with recognizable logos, such as the hammer and sickle motif of the Soviet Union superimposed on a background of red and white stripes reminiscent of the US flag. I See Darkness (2011) is one of the wool series for which Trockel is best known. Black yarn is stretched across a square of white perspex in vertical lines which, from far away, create the illusion of a monochrome painting.[4] More recent wool paintings feature bold horizontal and vertical stripes of color as well as monochromatic compositions, with clear references to the formal compositions of twentieth century abstract painting.[8]

Another of Trockel's pieces consists of a steel cube fitted with six hot plates in two parallel, diagonal lines, meant to establish a bridge between the "feminine domain" of cooking and the "masculine domain" of industrial production. Aside from the knitted and patterned logos, she has also made a series of pictures of webs made by spiders under the influence of LSD, hashish, or mescaline. She says it depicts their loneliness and their weak figures, because their webs would not be strong enough to catch prey to survive. They would eventually die. The spider web series can be seen at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Trockel's Painting Machine and 56 Brush Strokes (1990) is a mechanical contraption of wires and steel rollers, in which 56 paint brushes make small marks on a roll of paper. The brushes are made of human hair and are engraved with the names of the hair's donors, including artists like Cindy Sherman, Georg Baselitz, and Barbara Kruger.[2]

From the late 1980s, Trockel has turned increasingly to video works.[9] For example, in Naples, huge flocks of birds drift rhythmically across the screen like so many magically controlled flecks. Ants focuses on a single insect whose movements are doubled by the use of a split screen.[9] Goodbye Mrs. Monipäer (2003) shows people examining art in a modern house and consequently looking framed and behind glass themselves.[10]

Since 2004, collages have become a distinct part of Trockel’s oeuvre, often allowing her to recombine aspects of her multifaceted practice.[11]


In 1995, Trockel created the Frankfurter Engel memorial in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Invited to documenta 1997, she (in a collaboration with her then-partner, Carsten Höller) installed A House for Pigs and People, in which a clan of pigs and their young carried on their lives as hordes of viewers watched.[3]

Together with Thea Djordjadze, with whom she has frequently collaborated since Djordjadze had been her student in the late 1990s, Trockel designed Image Movement, a film shop and cinema within Sprüth Magers’ Berlin gallery.

For the season 2008/2009 in the Vienna State Opera Rosemarie Trockel designed a large scale picture (176 sqm) as part of the exhibition series "Safety Curtain", conceived by museum in progress.[12]

For “Concept Korea — Fashion Collective 2010″, an exhibition held at the New York Public Library on the occasion of New York Fashion Week 2010, Trockel took portraits of South Korean designers from their adolescence and used them to address issues of fashion and gender identity.[13]


Trockel has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the Dia Center for the Arts, New York; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. At New York's Pat Hearn Gallery in 1987, Trockel's paintings were shown alongside the works of Mary Heilmann, Annette Lemieux, Louise Bourgeois, and Eva Hesse.[14] In 1988, as part of the museum's "Projects" series, the Museum of Modern Art offered an extended look at the artist's made between 1982 and 1987.[15] In 1989, Thomas Krens included her in his show "Refigured Painting: The German Images 1960-88", organized jointly by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Williams College Museum of Art.[16] Trockel was the sole representative of Germany in the 1999 Venice Biennale,[17] and participated in documenta in 1997 and 2012.[6]

In 2012, Trockel's work was featured in a retrospective exhibition called “Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos” at the New Museum in New York.[5][18] This exhibition then traveled to the Serpentine Galleries in London in 2013.[19] In the same year, an overview of her work, with wool pictures, ceramics, foam sculptures and collages was held at the WIELS Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels. The same exhibition was later on display at the Museion, Bozen.[20] In 2014, she was included in the survey show Fiber Sculpture: 1960-Present at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.[21]


2008 Life on Mars, the 2008 Carnegie International[22]

Honors and prizes (Selection)[edit]

  • 1985 Stipendium by Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft, Cologne
  • 1989 Karl-Ströher-Preis, Frankfurt am Main
  • 1991 Günter-Fruhtrunk-Preis by Akademie der Bildenden Künste Munich
  • 1998 Staatspreis by the State of Nordrhein-Westfalen
  • 1999 Internationaler Kunstpreis by Kulturstiftung Stadtsparkasse Munich
  • 2004 Wolfgang-Hahn-Preis by Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst am Kölner Museum Ludwig
  • 2011 Goslarer Kaiserring
  • 2011 Wolf Prize in Arts


According to Roberta Smith of the New York Times, "Trockel's greatest influence is clearly the art of Sigmar Polke".[15] At the same time, her work is seen as an antecedent, in different ways, to artists like Sarah Lucas, Anna Betbeze, Sterling Ruby, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, and Kerstin Brätsch.[23]

Art market[edit]

Trockel is represented by Sprüth Magers Berlin London and Gladstone Gallery in New York and Brussels. At Art Basel in 2012, Skarstedt Gallery sold Trockel's knitted painting Made in Western Germany (1987) for $1 million.[24]


  1. ^ Michael Kimmelman (April 28, 1991), Politics, Laced With a Dollop of Strangeness New York Times.
  2. ^ a b Rosemarie Trockel Tate, London.
  3. ^ a b Grace Glueck (March 23, 2001), Drawings as Enigmas Wrapped in Metaphors New York Times.
  4. ^ a b Zoe Pilger (February 14, 2013), Rosemarie Trockel, A Cosmos, Serpentine Gallery, London The Independent.
  5. ^ a b Ariella Budick (December 10, 2012), Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos, New Museum, New York Financial Times.
  6. ^ a b Rosemarie Trockel, November 9 - December 21, 2013 Gladstone Gallery, New York.
  7. ^ a b Ian Chilvers & John Glaves-Smith, A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art. Oxford University Press, p. 715
  8. ^ a b Rosemarie Trockel, November 9 - December 21, 2013 Gladstone Gallery, New York.
  9. ^ a b Roberta Smith (September 26, 1997), ART REVIEW; Finding Yarns in Video Imagery New York Times.
  10. ^ Roberta Smith (July 7, 2011), 'Time Again' New York Times.
  11. ^ Rosemarie Trockel: Drawings, Collages and Book Drafts, 29 January - 30 April 2011 Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh.
  12. ^ "Safety Curtain 2008/2009", museum in progress, Vienna.
  13. ^ Alix Browne (February 9, 2010), The Koreans Are Coming New York Times.
  14. ^ Roberta Smith (October 2, 1987), 'Sculpture,' the Works of Five Women New York Times.
  15. ^ a b Roberta Smith (March 11, 1988), Sly, Sardonic Feminism From a West German New York Times.
  16. ^ Michael Brenson (February 10, 1989), 'The German Image' New York Times.
  17. ^ Rosemarie Trockel: Country Life, New Ceramics, and Pottery, October 21 - November 25, 2006 Gladstone Gallery, New York.
  18. ^ Lookofsky, Sarah. "Rosemarie Trockel: NEW MUSEUM". Artforum. Archived from the original on 2013-04-27. 
  19. ^ Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery 2013
  20. ^ Noble, Kathy. "Rosemarie Trockel". Frieze. 
  21. ^ "Fiber Sculpture 1960 - present". The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  22. ^ "Life On Mars". Carnegie International. February 2008. Archived from the original on 2013-04-27. 
  23. ^ Roberta Smith (June 13, 2012), Connecting Kindred Spirits New York Times.
  24. ^ Scott Reyburn (June 13, 2012), Hedge Funder Cohen, Eye Rothko, $25 Million Richter Sells Bloomberg.


  • Ian Chilvers & John Glaves-Smith, A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art. Oxford University Press (2009)