Knitted images, hot plates and pigs: artist Rosemarie Trockel defies categorization | Arts | DW


Rosemarie Trockel rose to fame in the 1980s with her knitted wool paintings. What the artist called his “knitting images”, however, was not the result of turning a hobby into art: Rather, Trockel’s woolen artwork was machine-generated. Changing the way traditionally feminine materials were used, she criticized traditional designs as well as the established hierarchy of art forms, which places painting above craftsmanship.

Among her best-known works are also her “hotplates,” in which she placed dark electric hobs against colorful backgrounds, turning them into minimalist black circles.

The circles on this untitled work of art are reminiscent of the hobs on an induction cooker

The works were not only an interpretation of the alleged role of women in the kitchen, but also offered an ironic homage to the matrix points popular among pop artists.

Trockel has since improved its hotplates, which are now reminiscent of induction hobs; the artist adapts to his time with a critical eye and a sense of humor.

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Breaking into a male-dominated art world

Born November 13, 1952 in Schwerte, Rosemarie Trockel grew up in Leverkusen. His works are still regularly exhibited at the Morsbroich Museum in this city.

She developed an interest in film and painting from an early age, but first studied social anthropology, social sciences, theology and mathematics at university. She then went on to study art at the Academy of Fine and Applied Arts in Cologne.

She has been a professor at the Düsseldorf Academy of Arts since 1998.

Köln - Knitted Paintings by Rosemarie Trockel auf der Art Cologne

Trockel’s “knitted paintings” made her famous in the United States

On a trip to the United States, Trockel met artists like Jenny Holzer and Cindy Sherman. Trockel’s works were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the late 1980s, and later in Chicago and Boston.

She was the first woman to participate in the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1999.

Trockel had already sparked controversy with his “House for Pigs and People” at Documenta in 1997. The installation, created with artist Carsten Höller, featured a family of pigs living in a house. The project aimed to show “pigs” in human beings. Instead of questioning the role of women, the book has dealt with the identity and organization of society.

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Deutschland Kassel - Stall für Schweine und Menschen auf der Documetna von Rosemarie Trockel

A house for pigs and humans at Documenta in 1997

Few public appearances

Although Trockel is an internationally renowned German modern artist, she is largely withdrawn from the public. It does not have a home page and it usually rejects interview requests.

However, Trockel always tackles political and social issues, and not just through his work. For example, following the New Year’s Eve events in Cologne in 2015, she signed a call for artists and musicians from Cologne against sexual violence and xenophobic hatred.

Rosemarie Trockel

Life-size doll wearing bulletproof vest on display in Bregenz

Trockel’s last solo exhibition took place in Bregenz in 2015. It was titled “Märzôschnee ûnd Wiebôrweh sand am Môargô niana më”, a traditional saying from Begrenz which roughly translates to “The pains of women disappear the next day, like the snow in March, “which minimizes the suffering of women.

Much attention was paid to Bregenz to the life-size doll of Trockel wearing curlers and partially dressed in black linen, as is typical of traditional Bregenz costumes. The doll wore a bulletproof vest, a chamois beard, and chicken feet on her back. The doll was said to represent both strength and vulnerability combined in one person. The sex of the doll was not defined.

Play with viewers’ expectations

Trockel always develops new ideas through paintings, sculptures and installations, works characterized by humor and contrasts.

She created ceramic breasts; a stable-looking foam box. What is soft becomes hard, and what is hard becomes soft, an idea reminiscent of Swedish pop artist Claes Oldenburg.

Rosemarie Trockel still uses thread as a material in more recent works. She spreads colorful acrylic threads on a canvas, making them appear as stripes and squares when viewed from a distance. Painting with threads, so to speak.

In 2015, Rosemarie Trockel announced that her show in Bregenz would be her last for the next seven years. His latest works can be seen at the Malkasten artist complex in Düsseldorf. Trockel designed its entire interior, including a large colorful carpet measuring 400 square meters.


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