Drawings, Collages, and Book Drafts
Curator Anita Haldemann
Kunstmuseum Basel's Kupferstichkabinett (Department of Prints and Drawings) presents the biggest exhibition so far of works on paper by Rosemarie Trockel. With over two-hundred drawings, collages and book drafts, the show provides a fascinating glimpse of Trockel's wide-ranging graphic output of the past thirty-plus years.
It is 1985 and Rosemarie Trockel is living in Cologne. Her drawings, sculptures – in particular her now famous knitted pictures – cause an uproar. Today she ranks among the most outstanding contemporary artists. Her oeuvre also encompasses video and ceramics, as well as several other media and techniques. But drawing in particular has always been a key constant in her work – not least to record both fleeting thoughts and mature reflections. Trockel's drawings contain all the thematic points of departure that she subsequently develops in other techniques. Trockel's chief strategy is to ironically question social clichés and artistic norms about man/woman, human/animal, or art/politics. Everywhere – but in her drawings especially – she undermines the distinction between original and copy.
Trockel's drawing is an intensely private pursuit. It requires a certain self-forgetfulness and great skill. She tends to conceal this by pretending to be clumsy and by blithely stepping into various other styles. Precisely because the drawings are driven less by formal issues than by content, they exude an evident delight to experiment on paper. A case in point are her most recent works in acrylic and graphite, created specifically for this exhibition.
The book drafts refer to unrealised projects. Eighty-five of them constitute the largest sample that has ever been on display – a veritable archive of ideas. These drafts symbolise both the potential and the failure of ideas. Alongside her drawings and book drafts, the shows contains new collages that Trockel began to create in 2004. Collage is a technique that has allowed the artist to combine drawings and other materials from many different stages in her career. The result is a set of permanent constellations that disregard rigid chronology. Without detracting from the autonomous standing of her drawings, Trockel's collages bear striking witness to the many connections between her various activities.
In 1991 Dieter Koepplin, the then head of Kupferstichkabinett at Kunstmuseum Basel, presented 171 works on paper by Rosemarie Trockel – her first large show of works in this genre. He also created a collection focus by acquiring a impressive number of Trockel's works. It is no accident, therefore, that the current exhibition of drawings, collages, and book drafts sets out from Kunstmuseum Basel. It was organised jointly by Kunstmuseum Basel and Kunstmuseum Bonn, and will also be on display at Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh, in 2011.
Image: Natural Philosophy Dispute, 1993. Mixed media on paper, 27,9 x 20,9 cm Kunstmuseum Basel, Kupferstichkabinett. Photo: Courtesy the artist and Sprüth Magers Berlin London
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Kunstmuseum Basel, Museum für Gegenwartskunst
with Emanuel Hoffmann-Stiftung
St. Alban-Rheinweg 60, CH-4010 Basel
Opening times: Tue-Sun 11–18 h