Rosemarie Trockel - 20th C. & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Wednesday, November 13, 2019 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Sprüth Magers, Berlin
    Private Collection, Switzerland
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    London, Skarstedt, Rosemarie Trockel: Knitted Works, June 7 - August 4, 2017

  • Catalogue Essay

    A mesmerizing pattern of black and white checks, Untitled, 1985, is an exquisite early example of Rosemarie Trockel’s machine-knit wool works, which the artist began making in the 1980s and continues to explore to this day. Belonging to Trockel’s innovative Strickbilder series, or "knitting pictures," Untitled powerfully straddles the line between feminine craft and minimalist motifs, defining the artist’s own cross-disciplinary genre. Eschewing easy categorization, works such as Untitled call into question traditional notions of painting and art-making and present a novel way of thinking about female identity and craftsmanship in a male-dominated sphere.

    By selecting wool as her preferred medium—a material typically associated with femininity and domesticity—Trockel draws attention to preconceived notions of knitting and weaving, challenging the perceived inferiority of these skills and techniques. To create works like the present example, Trockel makes blueprint designs and then outsources their production to a technician utilizing computer machinery. In mechanizing the weaving process, Trockel aligns herself with the Minimalists, who were the first to incorporate industrial manufacturing techniques into their artistic processes. Moreover, she upends the presumed hierarchies of her chosen medium, elevating craft to the realm of fine art. She explains, “I wanted to know what causes a given kind of work to be regarded by women as embarrassing, both in the past and in the present: whether this has to do with the way the material is handled or whether it really lies in the material itself” (Rosemarie Trockel, quoted in Rosemarie Trockel: Knitted Works, Skarstedt, London, 2017, online).

    The serial, checkerboard motif in Untitled is exemplary of Trockel’s early wool works, in which the artist borrows imagery from fashion magazines and pattern books to create her woven canvases. Bearing resemblance to a knitted garment, the present work takes deliberate inspiration from such feminine devices. “The patterns I use are, in principle, ones I come upon in knitting books, papers like Brigitte, and designs for tapestries, fabrics, etc.,” Trockel explains. “In fact, the meaning of the concept ‘pattern’ is the model to be copied… The serial patterns, just as the social conditions in which they originated, are of interest here, rather than the formalism of the right angle” (Rosemarie Trockel, quoted in Jutta Koether, “Rosemarie Trockel”, Flash Art, May 1987). With its grid-like structure devoid of all color, Untitled demonstrates Trockel’s own reckoning with “formalism," as she defines it, and reflects upon the social implications of certain images and patterns culled from everyday life. Here, Trockel infuses hard-edged designs with an exquisite subtlety, made possible by her unique choice of medium. A tactile, re-exploration of the minimalist grid, Untitled is visually elegant and conceptually rigorous, standing as a testament to Trockel’s enduring legacy that is as relevant today as it was four decades ago.



signed "R Trockel" on the reverse
knitted wool mounted to canvas
11 7/8 x 15 1/2 in. (30.2 x 39.4 cm.)
Executed in 1985.

$70,000 - 100,000 

Sold for $75,000

Contact Specialist
Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York
+ 1 212 940 1250

20th C. & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 13 November 2019