Rebecca Horn

In the Triangle

1973–4

On display at Tate Modern

Artist
Rebecca Horn born 1944
Original title
Im Dreieck
Medium
Fabric and wood
Dimensions
Displayed: 1850 x 5140 x 55 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased with assistance from Tate Members 2002
Reference
T07856

Summary

In the Triangle consists of a large, two-dimensional fabric triangle, strengthened by wooden inserts. A female performer stands within the triangle such that her head protrudes from its apex while the sloping sides extend in front and behind her. Her body is entirely concealed within the fabric. ‘Wearing’ the triangle in this way, the individual performer is transformed into a large geometric shape.

Art historian Alexandra Tacke sees this work as Horn’s exploration of the presence of the human body in space. While earlier works such as Head Extension 1972 (Tate T07861) drew attention to the body’s verticality through a drastic extension of height, In the Triangle considers the body’s two-dimensionality, subsumed into a neat geometrical shape that contrasts with its three-dimensional surroundings.

Emerging onto the art scene in the late 1960s, the German artist Rebecca Horn was part of a generation of artists whose work challenged the institutions, forces and structures that governed not only the art world but society at large. In art, this meant a renewed critical focus on the human body, contesting the commodification of art objects by foregrounding the individual. This focus on the human body took on a particular personal resonance for Horn, who was confined to hospitals and sanatoria for much of her early twenties after suffering from severe lung poisoning while working unprotected with polyester and fibreglass at Hamburg’s Academy of the Arts.

Horn has made work in a variety of media throughout her career, from drawing to installation, writing to filmmaking. Yet it is with her sculptural constructions for the body that she has undertaken the most systematic investigation of individual subjectivity. Her bodily extensions, for example, draw attention to the human need for interaction and control while also pointing to the futility of ambitions to overcome natural limitations. Similarly, her constructions, despite their medical imagery, are deliberately clumsy and functionless, while other works attest to the unacknowledged affinities between humans, animals and machines.

Further reading
Carl Haenlein (ed.), Rebecca Horn: The Glance of Infinity, Zürich 1997, p. 48.
Armin Zweite, Katharina Schmidt, Doris von Drathen and others, Rebecca Horn: Drawings, Sculptures, Installations, Films 1964–2006, Ostfildern 2006, pl.43 (see also pl.44).
Alexandra Tacke, Rebecca Horn: Künstlerische Selbstpositionierungen im kulturellen Raum, Cologne 2011, pp.60–1.

Lucy Watling
August 2012

Video

Rebecca Horn: Body Extensions and Isolation

Get a fresh perspective on Rebecca Horn in this short film about the artist and her work In The Triangle  ...