Katharina Grosse - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Friday, March 8, 2024 | Phillips
  •  “Painting allows for a unique understanding of time. Unlike any other medium, it allows us to see different moments in time within one and the same painting. All the layers on the surface generate a cluster of time. A painting reverses your understanding of present, future and past to a point that it even annihilates it.”
    —Katharina Grosse


    Expressive and vibrant streaks of colour envelop the works of the renowned German artist, Katharina Grosse. Known for her large in situ installations, that transform architectural spaces and even landscapes into all-consuming compositions, she continuously pushes boundaries through her radical approach to abstract expressionism. Her practice returns to the fundamentals of painting – ‘the application of pure colour to a surface’ – yet transforms it through excess and exaggeration.i Using a spray gun, irregularly shaped stencils, and a limited colour palette, Grosse layers and blocks paint to create a composition of kaleidoscopic shapes.


    Katharina Grosse’s o.T., painted in 2021, is a compelling example of the artist’s traditional use of colour and abstraction. Rendered in expressive swathes of reds, yellows, blues, purples, and greens, Grosse creates an imposing landscape of colour. Layers of ribbon-like strips flow down the canvas, only to be interrupted by coiled and jagged forms, reminiscent of tears or scars. From the white lacerations, remnants of paint peer through, inviting the viewer to look more closely in an attempt to discover what lies beneath the surface. Grosse’s work does not seek to offer solutions, however, and instead revels in its self-avowed ambiguity. Indeed, space is no less of a target for Grosse’s unconventional gaze than colour. It is perhaps only her own imagination that presents any boundaries to Grosse’s approach.


    Intent on expanding the scope of her work beyond the confining canvas, many of Grosse’s works from the same year utilise foraged vegetal materials. Twigs, branches and vines are pinned to the canvas with varying degrees of rigour and are subsequently removed after the paint’s application. The reductive technique results in forms that range from serpentine entanglements to jagged tears and slashes. In collecting foreign materials and incorporating them into her process, the finished product evidences a practice that is wide reaching both physically and conceptually.


    Recalling the canonical works of artists, such as Jackson Pollock and Cy Twombly, Grosse’s approach to painting requires a physical relationship between her body and the composition. As she travels around the large-scale sculptures, canvases, or even architectural surfaces, her movements directly affect the application of paint. As she moves closer to the surface, the colours become more solid and vibrant, in contrast, moving away results in a sheer and dispersed effect in the paint. This constant movement allows for a variable yet controlled spontaneity. In their exhibited state, Grosse’s works such as the present example are potentially imposing, yet her active process infers a palpable intimacy. Despite its monumentality and dizzying execution, there is consideration granted to the viewer. Grosse aims at first destabilising the viewer’s perspective, allowing them to participate in her approach as they are whisked through heady revelations. Thus, a fresh perspective on action painting does not prioritise the artist’s dynamism alone but connects her process to the viewer’s participation.




    i Gregory Volk, Katharina Grosse, London, 2020, p. 41

    • Provenance

      KÖNIG GALERIE, Seoul
      Acquired from the above by the present owner



signed, numbered and dated '2021/1063 Katharina Grosse 2021' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
160 x 114 cm (62 7/8 x 44 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2021.

Full Cataloguing

£100,000 - 150,000 

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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 8 March 2024