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Gregor Schneider (b. 1969)
Gregor Schneider (b. 1969)

Cellar Wall Corner (from Totes Haus ur)

Gregor Schneider (b. 1969)
Cellar Wall Corner (from Totes Haus ur)
signed twice, titled twice, inscribed and dated twice 'CELLAR WALL CORNER 88-2001 (RHEYDT MAILAND LONDON VENEDIG) SCHNEIDER SCHNEIDER 88-2001 WALL CORNER) (on the reverse of the wall)
wood, plaster board and synthetic mesh
90½ x 86½ x 23½ in. (229.9 x 219.7 x 59.7 cm.)
Executed in 1988-2001.
Galleria Massimo de Carlo, Milan
Vienna, Wiener Secession, Gregor Schneider, March-May 2000.
London, Royal Academy of the Arts, Apocalypse. Beauty and Horror in Contemporary Art, September-December 2000.
Venice, German Pavilion, 49th Venice Biennale, Totes Haus Ur, June-November 2001.
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Please note this work has been withdrawn.

Lot Essay

The focus of Gregor Schneider's work for the past fifteen years has been his house, Haus ur, in Rheydt, Germany. Originally his parents' home, he moved there in 1995, aged sixteen, and it has formed the core of his artistic practice ever since. Since then, Schneider has introduced so many structural changes that it could not be returned to its original layout without completely dismantling it first. Walls have been built in front of existing walls, windows blocked up, doorways altered. These elements combine with other devices to disrupt the way in which we interpret architectural space and to induce in the viewer intense feelings of fear mingled with curiosity and overwhelming claustrophobia: doors, floors and walls are made unnaturally dense, ceilings dip and rise, one room is on wheels that slowly turn the entire space so that you can never be sure of returning to the same place. What appear to be chinks of daylight glimmering through a dusty grate in the cellar turn out to be lit by a naked bulb beneath a black cloth; the gently billowing curtain signalling a breeze from an open window is generated by a hidden electric fan.

That a whole floor, or, in the case of the Venice Biennale, the entire house, are transplanted to other locations around the world, is, according to the artist, an elementary part of his work: "I might work elsewhere in order to make the place less important." The artist is more concerned with building a house for his soul. "As in Bluebeard's castle, a series of doors conceals we know not what unimaginable horrors or treasures. Schneider's house, like all others, is a place of privacy in which imagination, the most dangerous yet creative characteristic of human beings, can make itself visible without inhibition; our houses are the only place where we are really ourselves, where we sleep, where we are free to include or exclude whomsoever we wish. The house of Schneider suddenly seems quite normal - all too normal yet completely surprising, not a little sinister, as is everybody's house but our own. Schneider's house could be compared to the 'Merzbau' of Kurt Schwitters but it seems more pathological than autobiographical, more a house than a quasi-cathedral." (N. Rosenthal, in: 'Apocalypse. Beauty and Horror in Contemporary Art', London 2000).

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