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  • 'A painting is simply a screen between the producer and the spectator where both can look at the thought processes residing on the screen from different angels and points in time. It enables me to look at the residue of my thinking'. —Katharina Grosse Pulsing with an intense, psychedelic energy, and executed on a colossal scale, Katharina Grosse’s Ohne Titel is a dizzying exercise in the interactions of colour, thought and feeling that best characterises the German artist’s work. Internationally renowned for her immersive, enormous, site-specific installations where she uses industrial tools to spray unmixed acrylic across ceilings, walls, floors and out into the surrounding landscape, Grosse radically challenges preconceived notions of what (or where) painting can be. 

     

    Katharina Grosse interview, ‘On the Edge of Something Else’
    'As Artists we produce alternatives. Constantly. We are manufacturing alternatives for whatever'. —Katharina Grosse 

    Colour as Feeling

     

    Executed in 2017, the present work belongs to an interconnected series of works on canvas which developed out of Grosse’s pivotal Gagosian show her first in New York. As in her sprayed and built environments, in Grosse’s work on canvas it is the interactions between process, colour and material that is paramount. Removing the hand of the artist, Grosse’s signature spray gun extends the physical range of her body dramatically, allowing her to move intuitively through her unpremeditated compositions as if ‘thinking out loud.’i  

     

    Grosse is highly articulate on the relationships between the body, colour and feeling, particularly on the ways in which her spraying technique and her intensely vibrant palette work together to engage the body in new ways of feeling, rather than seeing alone. 

    'Spraying permits actions that come directly from seeing, whereas the movement of the body influences painting lines with the brush heavily. The movement of the eye is much more closely connected to the movement of the spray gun. You move away from the system of measurements based on the body' —Katharina Grosse  

    Installation view of Katharina Grosse, Is It You? Baltimore Museum of Art, 2020 © DACS 2021

    Grosse’s broad sweeps of bold, acid chromatics capable of disrupting spatial relationships both within and well beyond the canvas are especially important in this respect. Colour, Grosse insists, represents raw immediacy, something we experience sensorily rather than analytically as a powerfully disruptive force registered in our bodies. This is clearly communicated in o.T. where arcs of raw, lurid yellows, coral reds and lime greens form rhythmic patterns of pure, unmodulated colour that animate the expanse of the canvas as they pull the eye in and out, forwards and backwards across the painted surface. 

     

    Highly dramatic and visually recalling the thick folds of heavy drapery used elsewhere in her installations as broad diagonal sweeps of acrylic are interrupted and organised by sharply vertical elements, the present work pushes ‘excessive colour almost to breaking point’, as it moves us through shifting, prismatic layers.ii As well as spraying paint directly onto the surface, Grosse makes careful use of irregularly shaped stencils as a way of building spatial complexity here, establishing relationships between the composition’s chromatic blocks and layers. Eluding any kind of representational language, vertiginous shifts in scale and viewpoint create a kaleidoscopic landscape of refracted shards of pure colour that operate like enormous, immersive performances of Barbara Kasten’s photographic experiments with form, colour and light. 

     

    Detail of the present work.

    Conceiving of painting in a way that echoes the structures of language (or of music, a medium that the artist has also turned her hand to) Grosse explains: ‘There is no consecutive, one-after-the-other, linear movement in painting. Painting is more like a cluster. The thing you paint first and the thing you paint last are all on the canvas at the same time. So you could also reverse your understanding of the present, future, and past’.iii 

     

    Today Grosse’s works are installed in internationally renowned centres for modern and contemporary art including the Musée National d’art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Kunsthaus Zürich. Although utterly distinct, her works continue to draw favourable comparison to the all-over painting favoured by Abstract Expressionists Janet Sobel, Jackson Pollock and Cy Twombly, whose ability to collapse past, present and future on a single picture plane particularly appeals to Grosse who has noted that his ‘paintings are like voyages in time that divert a linear understanding of time’.iv

     

    Given her works radical extension of the immersive, all-over qualities of Abstract Expressionism, it is particularly fitting that Grosse was commissioned by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 2019 to produce a site-specific work that would sit in direct dialogue with Pollock’s 20-foot Mural from 1943. Liberating colour from the canvas, and even from the physical boundaries of the gallery itself, Grosse reconceptualises painting as a vital, independent force in the world, or, as the artist stated in one interview: 

    'Am I a painter? Am I a sculptor? I don’t know. I’m talking to the world while painting on it.' —Katharine Grosse 

    Left: Jackson Pollock, Mural, 1943, Gift of Peggy Guggenheim, 1959, University of Iowa Museum of Art © The Pollock-Krasner Foundation ARS, NY and DACS, London 2021
    Right: Katharina Grosse, Untitled, 2019, Acrylic on fabric. © DACS 2021

    Collector’s Digest

     

    •    Known for her major, site-specific installations Grosse has produced work for the inaugural Helsinki Biennial (2021); the Hamburger Banhof in Berlin (2020) and The South London Galley (2017), Grosse is currently the subject of a solo exhibition with Gagosian, Beverly Hills,

     

    •    In 2021 the most comprehensive monograph on the artist to date was published by Lund Humphries as part of their Contemporary Artists series.  

     

    •    Her work is included in important public collections including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Kunsthaus in Zürich, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, amongst others. 


    i Interview with Katharina Grosse originally filmed as part of Art21’s New York Close Up series, online
    ii Gregory Volk, Katharina Grosse, London, 2020, p. 10. 
    iii Katharina Gross in interview with Drew Sawyer, Document Journal, 18 May 2018, online
    iv Katharina Grosse, quoted in Gregory Volk, Katharina Volk, London, 2020, p. 80.
     

    • Provenance

      König Galerie, Berlin
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

20

Ohne Titel

signed, numbered and dated '2017/1055 K. Grosse 2017' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
290 x 193 cm (114 1/4 x 76 in.)
Painted in 2017.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
£120,000 - 180,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £277,200

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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 15 October 2021