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Rosemarie Trockel (b. 1952)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Rosemarie Trockel (b. 1952)

Untitled

Details
Rosemarie Trockel (b. 1952)
Untitled
knitted wool on canvas, in four parts
each: 51 3/8 x 35 5/8in. (130.5 x 90.5cm.)
overall: 51 3/8 x 142½in. (130.5 x 362cm.)
Executed in 1991
Provenance
Galerie Monika Sprüth, Cologne.
Galerie Wanda Reiff, Maastricht.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1991.
Exhibited
Maastricht, Galerie Wanda Reiff, Annette Messager - Lydia Schouten - Cindy Sherman - Rosemarie Trockel, 1991, no. 17 (illustrated, unpaged).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

'The greater part of our visual communication, as it is to be found in the magazines, television and film, is no longer provided by icons but by indices and logos. Through the masks of the image, through the signs, through the materials and patterns, we see in Trockel\as knitted logograms the activity of ideology' (P. Wiebel, quoted in B. Frenssen, Rosemarie Trockel: Bodies of Work, 1986-1998, exh. cat., Whitechapel Gallery London, 1998, p. 8).

Extending dramatically across four panels, Rosemarie Trockel's Untitled is a stunning example of the artist's 'wool paintings.' At once dazzling and confounding,Untitled invites further scrutiny, daring the viewer to unravel its enigmatic meaning. At a distance the black on white pattern across four panels produces a hypnotic effect on the eye; the work appears like the weave of a large net, beguiling the viewer and absorbing them in its allure. Recalling the black-and-white Op Art of another acclaimed female artist, Bridget Riley, the herringbone formations seem to emit a vibratory radiance, the surface humming with energy. Recalling Trockel's earlier Homage to Bridget Riley series from 1988, it could be suggested that Trockel's practice is inspired by Riley, who was the first woman to win the coveted international prize for painting at the 1968 Venice Biennale. Continuing this trajectory, Trockel would go on to be the sole representative of Germany for the Venice Biennale in 1999.

Untitled's mesmerising pattern compounded by its scale prompts the viewer to ponder on the role of the motif and its meaning. What at a distance appears to consist of a generic decorative pattern transforms when seen close-up into the detail of the wool knit, evoking memories of childhood, the conviviality of seasonal family gatherings, maternal homely scenes and domestic activity, which segue into the realm of womanhood and the tradition of domestic craft. The viewer is led to consider the stereotypes of women - as homeworker, mother and object of desire - yet the use of the industrial production process so brilliantly inverts these associations, negating the clichs and assumptions of womanhood and women's art.

Indeed, 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 fine art canon and within the domestic realm of arts and crafts. Through challenging clichés and prejudices about women's art, Trockel simultaneously subverts conventions of male dominated tradition of the auratic oil on canvas painting. Her patterns include generic decorative motifs as well as the use of iconic logos and signs, such as the famous Playboy bunny and the Woolmark, the cowboy and the hammer and sickle.

Trockel created Untitled through a mechanised 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, festishisation of the banal, and elevation of low consumer culture are evinced through the use of the humble woollen thread, and the repetition of the homely pattern across multiple panels.

Writing about Trockel's art, Peter Wiebel has said, 'the greater part of our visual communication, as it is to be found in the magazines, television and film, is no longer provided by icons but by indices and logos. Through the masks of the image, through the signs, through the materials and patterns, we see in Trockel's knitted logograms the activity of ideology' (P. Wiebel, quoted in B. Frenssen, Rosemarie Trockel: Bodies of Work, 1986-1998, exh. cat., Whitechapel Art Gallery, London 1998, p. 8).

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