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Home » New York – “Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos” at the New Museum through January 20th, 2013

New York – “Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos” at the New Museum through January 20th, 2013

December 28th, 2012


Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos, all images courtesy New Museum

The New Museum, in collaboration with the Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia, presents the illuminating and expansive world of Rosemarie Trockel. Lynn Cooke, former deputy director and chief curator at Reina Sofia, worked with Trockel to imagine a world that is very much Trockel’s without being Trockel-centric: her lumpy sculptures and smooth, linear woolworks are shown with a massive preserved lobster and other natural artifacts; her videos and installations abide just a level above the orangutan Tilda’s three paintings; 18th century naturalist Maria Sybilla Merian‘s precise watercolors hang near the self-taught Judith Scott‘s frenetically wrapped yarn sculptures.


Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos, courtesy New Museum

Never a strict retrospective but certainly a view into her inspirations and obsessions, the exhibition includes a wide swath of works from Trockel’s forty-year career. Just as the exhibition seems a bit hodgepodge, so her materials and concepts have never followed a logical or expected evolution. Over the years Trockel has worked with yarn, plants, steel, photography, film, human hair, and pigs, presenting issues of sexuality, feminism, the role of women in the art world, and the hierarchy of systems in general.


Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos, courtesy New Museum

Trockel was born in Schwerte, Germany, in the very male dominated, hierarchical German world of art, contending with male artists such as Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, and Georg Baselitz.  She currently lives and works in Cologne, teaching at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.


Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos, courtesy New Museum

The renaissance tradition of Kunstkammer or Wunderkammer (art- or wonder-room) lends clarity to A Cosmos in the sense that a disparate collection of natural objects, art, and artifacts can come together as a cohesive, curious whole when put together in the same room. Some of the works themselves are a half lending to the whole, or a visual trick that changes when viewed from a certain perspective: a single woman’s leg stands inside a golden display case, wearing a skirt visible only from one side; a hand cut off at the wrist rests in a display case near the flowers it might have picked; a cut-out of a young woman looking at sexy slides who, from the front, does not have a face; a woman’s head whose face is lost in the shadows of the wooden frame that encloses her.


Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos, courtesy New Museum

Trockel certainly respects the innate and the natural in art, giving considerable space to conserved creatures — a 27.5 pound lobster harvested in Maine, a crab specimen and plants. Then there is the work of people, and animals, such as an orangutan, whose own art stems from an untainted, universal place of truth virtually unaffected by the theories and posturing of the art world. In this setting, a lush (plastic) palm tree makes sense hanging upside down near a print of a tarantula dangling its legs in a vulva: it’s somewhat menacing and somewhat comforting.


Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos, courtesy New Museum

Judith Scott, who spent a great deal of her life institutionalized for Downs syndrome, only began making art at age forty. Six of her yarn-wrapped works appear on the second floor, a fascinating stepping-stone between Trockel’s immense, flat “knitting pictures” and her small, compact, lumpy sculptures.


Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos, courtesy New Museum

James Castle spent his entire life in Idaho, ignorant of the art world and completely deaf. His small birds made of paper from the mail and soot from his fire come together in a display that echoes the elegance of Morton Bartlett’s ballerina, a man whose artworks remained mostly unknown until after his death in 1992.


Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos, courtesy New Museum

The intentions involved in placing an orangutan’s artwork across from a deaf man’s, on the same floor as Judith Scott’s, next to a lobster that was created by the sea (naturally borne, at any rate) can to some raise questions of dominant culture and perhaps exploitation. But Trockel is forever forthright and above all, the sensation of honest inquiry, curiosity, and real appreciation of beauty defeats any darker inklings. After all this is Trockel’s goal: to question the meaning of institutions like education, of our understanding of Down syndrome and deafness, femininity and masculinity, even her own place in the natural world and her legacy in the history of art.

Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos is on view through January 20th, 2013.


Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos, courtesy New Museum


Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos, courtesy New Museum

-R. Miller

Links:
[New Museum]
Sprueth Magers: [Rosemarie Trockel]
NYTimes: [Connecting Kindred Spirits]

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