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  • Provenance

    Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York
    Private Collection
    Christie’s, New York, Contemporary Art, 17 May 2000, Lot 215
    Sotheby’s, London, Contemporary Art Evening Auction, 12 October 2012 Lot 001

  • Catalogue Essay

    “In the ‘70s there were a lot of questionable women’s exhibitions, mostly on the theme of house and home. I tried to take wool, which was viewed as a woman’s material, out of this context and to rework it in a neutral process of production.”
    ROSEMARIE TROCKEL AND ISABELLA GRAW, MUTUAL ART, 2003

    Rosemarie Trockel’s Untitled is a stunning example of the artist’s ‘wool paintings.’ At once dazzling and confounding, Untitled from 1987 invites further scrutiny, daring the viewer to unravel its enigmatic meaning. At a distance the massive expanse of dark colour seems solid and immobile but upon closer inspection, the individual threads of the wool expose themselves and the work assumes an entirely new and diferent identity. Trockel, in a very similar way to, but with a radically different effect as, Ad Reinhardt’s Black Paintings, has 'painted' a duotone work with a multiplicity of layers and meaning that gradually reveals itself upon closer inspection.

    Born and raised in West Germany, Rosemarie Trockel emerged in the early 1980s as a principal figure in the German art scene, a member of the generation that followed in the hallowed footsteps of Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, and Georg Baselitz. Having studied in Cologne at the Werkkunstschule, which was then heavily infuenced by the artist/teacher/shaman Joseph Beuys, Trockel radically departed from the masculine painting tradition that preceded her. Her artistic output, heavily infuenced by a feminist sensibility and characterized by her reputation as an enfant terrible, played a decisive role in the rapidly evolving German contemporary art scene at the time. There is a gravitational pull within her work that is informed by the avant-garde that sustained her generation.

    Responding to both Pop art’s embracing of the commodity and also to artists like Joseph Beuys’ socializing of art into a project for the reform and improvement of society, Trockel sought in these works, as in much of her own art, to shed light on the ofen hidden role of women as workers. Using a format of simple repetition, derived from both the Minimalist and Pop art aesthetic, she repeats not so much a single motif as a single chromatic instant endlessly across the vast empty expanse of the knitted feld. The greatest triumph of Trockel’s art is that from a polymath of infuences, her artistic production appears entirely autonomous as she fearlessly confronted and incorporated feminist concerns and sexuality. Trockel’s wool paintings were originally conceived as a riposte to an art
    critic’s comment that situated women’s artistic practices outside the established fne art canon and within the domestic realm of arts and crafs. Trockel created Untitled through a mechanized process, in contrast to the deliberate homemade style of the ‘pattern’, which was derived from women’s magazines and knitting books. The work’s mass-reproduced aesthetic recalls minimalism’s mode of industrial production, whilst Pop art’s seriality, festishization of the banal, and elevation of low consumer culture are evinced through the use of the humble woolen thread. Simultaneously challenging clichés and prejudices about women’s art, Trockel subverts conventions of the male dominated tradition of auratic oil on canvas painting.

    There is no mystery concerning the production of the work as one might ponder layers of paint in one of Reinhardt’s paintings. The immediacy of its physicality envelops the viewer. However, the menacing nature of the dark coloring seems to intone an almost smothering quality as opposed to the usual comfort of a blanket. The viewer is presented with a physical manifestation of the import of domestic production and its impact on his or her daily life. Rosemarie Trockel’s Untitled is a work with a multiplicity of meaning and infuences. Her individuality as a creative force, as one of the most important German artists of the 20th century whose feminist perspective provides a wholly unique experience, is impossible to underestimate. Constantly evolving and developing within her practice, the woolen works continue to assert themselves as the quintessential series from her oeuvre. Trockel’s particular probing poetic visual wit turns wool into something at once menacing and comforting, domestic and industrial, concrete and sof. This impeccable example is a testament to that originality.

10

Untitled

1987
knitted wool
100 x 80 cm. (39 3/8 x 31 1/2 in.)
Signed and dated ‘RT 87’ on the reverse stretcher.

Estimate
£60,000 - 80,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £116,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
[email protected]
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Evening Sale 10 February 2014 7pm