Charlotte Posenenske
Level 4: Room 9
Tate Modern: Display
Open every day

Charlotte Posenenske’s democratic concept of art was realised in works that she compared to ‘building elements’.

Posenenske trained as a painter, and her early work consists of geometric abstractions that reflect the influence of constructivism. Increasingly interested in industrial methods of production, she began to produce free standing sculptures which often resemble standardised architectural units. These were designed to be replicated in unlimited editions.

Prototype for Revolving Vane, 1967–8 is the original model which Posenenske went on to use for a series of box-like constructions in the form of a room, articulated and open to various arrangements and configurations. This prototype was made from found particle board on which the remnants of graffiti can be seen, highlighting the artist’s use of cheap, easily available materials.

The Square Tubes Series D, 1967 are part of an uneditioned series of factory-made objects. A number of folded, hollow volumes are joined together to create different shaped pieces. For each Square Tube a number of elements are needed which are fitted together and configured according to the owner’s decision. The tubes can be hung or placed on the floor in numerous configurations, and the physical organisation of the elements can also be altered in subsequent installations.

In 1968 she gave up her art practice to study sociology. Earlier that year she published a text in Art International that emphasised the participatory, democratic nature of her work. She wrote: ‘The things I make / are variable / as simple as possible / reproducible. They are components of a space, since they are like / building elements, / they can always be rearranged into new combinations or positions / thus, they alter the space. / I leave this alteration to the consumer who thereby again and anew participates in the creation.’

Charlotte Posenenske (1930-1985) was born in Wiesbaden, Germany. She lived and worked in Frankfurt.

Curated by Jessica Morgan and Kyla McDonald.