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Katharina Grosse

German, born 1961

Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery. Photograph by Arthur Evans.

Untitled (intern “Shape 7”) (KG/O 2010_8031L), 2010

Acrylic on fiberglass-reinforced plastic
423 1/4 x 216 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches (1075.1 x 529.9 x 7 cm)
Pending Acquisition Funds, 2012

Katharina Grosse’s recent installation at MASS MoCA, One Floor Up More Highly, merged her exuberant disregard for painterly conventions with a monumental proclamation of both brilliant color and raw theatricality. Spanning the entirety of one of the museum’s buildings, Grosse’s dynamic assemblage transformed the traditionally private gesture of art making into an ongoing public performance where the viewer simultaneously confronts and retraces the artist’s hand. Winding through gleaming white Styrofoam crystals that towered above crumbling dirt mounds and cast-off clothing spray-gunned with colorful swirls that seep rebelliously onto the walls and floor, the viewer is seduced by Grosse’s all-encompassing aesthetic into a hyperreality of heightened spatial, and ultimately spiritual, perception. This transportive effect echoes evocations of the Sublime found in the works of  Romantic era painters such as Caspar David Friedrich (German, 1774–1840), in addition to reflecting Grosse’s unique mingling of the narrative and the abstract.

Within this uncanny vista, Grosse also situated a number of large-scale plastic and fiberglass shards, including Untitled (Intern “Shape 7”) (KG/O 2010_8031L). Without a definite end or beginning, these concave forms operate as open systems where two- and three-dimensional space coexists. Placed upon the ground in a fervent rejection of the verticality of both traditional gallery walls and picture plane and the rigid distinction between pictorial and sculptural space, their jagged edges and bent corners create active illusions of light and shadow that encourage close examination. Meanwhile, their façades, painted with graffiti-style bursts of dripping, neon acrylic, continue the brilliantly colored anarchy of the surrounding environment, flatly contradicting their actual spatial limitations.

MORE ABOUT THE ARTIST

Born in 1961 in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, Katharina Grosse studied painting at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under the esteemed artist Gotthard Graubner (German, born 1930), whose opulent experimentations with color continue to influence her aesthetic. Her work has been showcased in various solo exhibitions at such institutions as de Appel in Amsterdam, White Cube in London, and the Hammer Museum. Grosse currently works out of Berlin while teaching painting at her alma mater.