Artist biography

German conceptual artist. She studied from 1974 to 1978 at the Werkkunstschule, Cologne, then heavily influenced by Joseph Beuys. In the early 1980s she came into contact with the Mülheimer Freiheit, a Cologne-based group of painters that included Walter Dahn (b 1954) and she exhibited at the Cologne gallery of Monika Sprüth, who at that time showed only women artists. In 1985 Trockel produced her first ‘knitting pictures', consisting of lengths of machine-knitted woollen material stretched on to frames. The material is patterned with computer-generated geometrical motifs or recognisable logos, for example the hammer-and-sickle motif of the Soviet Union ironically superimposed on a background of red-and-white stripes that recall the US flag (Untitled, 1986; see 1991–2 exh. cat., pl. 9). The knitted works are ironic comments on the traditionally feminine occupation of knitting placed in a context of mass production. Other works by Trockel also have a feminist theme. A piece consisting of a steel cube fitted with six hot plates in two parallel diagonal lines (Untitled, 1988; Cologne, Mus. Ludwig) establishes a bridge between the feminine domain of cooking and the masculine domain of industrial production. Trockel's Painting Machine and 56 Brush Strokes (1990; see 1991–2 exh. cat., pl. 53) 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 engraved with the names of the hair's donors, who include Georg Baselitz, Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger.

Bibliography
J. Koether: ‘Interview with Rosemarie Trockel', Flash A., 134 (1987), pp. 40–42
Rosemarie Trockel (exh. cat., ed. S. Stich; Boston, MA, ICA; Berkeley, U. CA, A. Mus.; Chicago, IL, Mus. Contemp. A.; and elsewhere; 1991–2)

NINA LÜBBREN

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