Installation by Katharina Grosse

Posted by Kemper Art Museum November 9, 2016

This untitled installation by German artist Katharina Grosse (b. 1961) was commissioned for the Gary M. Sumers Recreation Center in 2016. Consisting of a dramatic intervention covering the center's interior entrance wall, the work exemplifies the artist's signature spray-gun technique and the fusion of painting and architecture for which she is internationally known.

As with Grosse's previous work, such as her 2003 installation in Toronto's Pearson International Airport, the painting transgresses the architectural boundaries of the space, moving over multiple surfaces and onto adjoining walls in a strong diagonal direction. Vibrant primary and secondary colors are densely layered, and the material plasticity of the artist's chosen medium is emphasized through drips and large areas of overspray, suggesting a sense of dynamic movement and revealing the gestural marks of the artist’s process.

Significantly, Grosse leaves one area at the edge of the entrance wall unpainted, exposing the original layer of the architecture and simultaneously allowing the painting to frame itself. Immediately to the left of this unpainted area is a vertical stripe that displaces the diagonal gestures of the composition and reinforces the sense of a frame. As with the artist's use of the spray gun, this displacement mediates the directness of the painting process and adds a self-reflexive element to the installation. This sophisticated interplay with the architectural space results in a contextual work that also asserts its own sense of autonomy.

To develop these large-scale installations, Grosse draws on a wide range of art historical precedents, including fresco painting, street graffiti, and Abstract Expressionism. Situated within the University's Athletic Complex, this work's vibrant and active presence generates an immersive experience that intensifies awareness of both the environment and one’s own body as one passes through the multistoried space.

The artwork is part of Washington University's Art on Campus program, a percent-for-art policy administered by the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. We invite you to visit the works in person and learn more about them, as well as installations in and around the Museum, using the Museum's cell phone tour.

Image credit

Katharina Grosse, Untitled, 2016. Acrylic paint on wallboard, wood veneer, and steel, 480 x 960 x 67”. University purchase, Art on Campus fund, Gary M. Sumers Recreation Center, 2016.