Begun in the year after her husband’s death, Rotraut’s Taurus, 1963-1976, is a dazzling tribute to the mystical oeuvre of Yves Klein. Presenting a glittering vista of twinkling dots proliferated across the canvas as though infinite galaxies, Taurus encapsulates Rotraut’s and Klein’s mutual fascination with the cosmos, the natural world and the realm of the immaterial. Hovering in the lower right quadrant, a void-like scorch mark acts as a black hole; burnt into the canvas by Klein himself, Taurus commemorates the metaphysical connection shared by Rotraut and her husband. Born in East Germany in 1938, Rotraut spent the stricken post-War years living on her family’s farm where she developed a holistic attachment to the land that would become essential to her artistic output. Of this profound connection, which Rotraut considers the matrix of her creativity, Pierre Restany wrote in 1987, ‘Her oneness with nature and sense of universal harmony are based on the balance of physical energy and awareness of effort. Conscious of space through energy but also through time, Rotraut has retained her sensitivity to the seasonal alternations of life in the countryside and to its magic rites. Even today, whenever there is a full moon, she makes a “galaxy”, a big gestural and spatial composition that comes to her instinctively, all in one go. That is how she takes hold of space in order to “sow stars”’ (P. Restany, quoted in J. Bouzerand, ‘Rotraut: Life-Energy’, accessed 6 March 2015 [http://www.rotraut.com/texts_en.html]).
In 1955, in her quest for artistic freedom, Rotraut followed her brother, the renowned ZERO artist, Günther Uecker, to Düsseldorf, escaping the isolated West for the liberated artistic milieu of East Germany. But Rotraut’s life was to change irrevocably in the summer of 1957 when Uecker arranged for her to work as an au pair in Nice for the artist Arman’s family where she was introduced to Klein. Within months Rotraut had joined Klein in his ‘immaterial adventure’; as his muse and collaborator she mixed his patented International Klein Blue pigment and posed as a model for his famous Anthropometries. Yet their artistic and romantic life together was to be cut tragically short by Klein’s sudden death in 1962, shortly after their marriage and just months before Rotraut would give birth to their son. Inspired by Klein’s elemental philosophy, Rotraut’s boundless galaxies reflect her and Klein’s joint commitment to the exploration of the infinite and spiritual, uniting her deep affinity for the natural world with her beloved husband’s adventures into the immaterial void.