post-title Katharina Grosse | It Wasn’t Us | Hamburger Bahnhof | 14.06.2020-10.01.2021

Katharina Grosse | It Wasn’t Us | Hamburger Bahnhof | 14.06.2020-10.01.2021

Katharina Grosse | It Wasn’t Us | Hamburger Bahnhof | 14.06.2020-10.01.2021

Katharina Grosse | It Wasn’t Us | Hamburger Bahnhof | 14.06.2020-10.01.2021

Since June 14, 2020, Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin has been showing the site-specific painting It Wasn’t Us by the artist Katharina Grosse, which extends to the outside area at the back of the building.

Katharina Grosse’s paintings can appear anywhere: on a rubber boot, on an egg, on the crumpled folds of a cloth, along a railway line, on the beach, in snow, on a sculptural form, or across a façade and on the roof. Her large-scale works are multi-dimensional pictorial worlds in which splendid colours sweep across walls, ceilings, objects, and even entire buildings and landscapes. Central to Grosse’s artistic practice is this notion that painting takes place not just on canvas, but that it can also permeate every facet of our surroundings. For the exhibition “Katharina Grosse. It Wasn’t Us”, the artist has transformed the Historic Hall of Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, as well as the outdoor space behind the building, into an expansive painting which radically destabilises the existing order of the museum architecture.

The artist’s latest in situ painting disregards the boundaries of the museum space in a grand and colourful gesture: “I painted my way out of the building”, said Grosse in relation to her work. Over the course of several weeks a vast new painting has emerged that stretches across the Historic Hall and into public space, over the extensive grounds behind the museum and finally landing on the façade of the so-called Rieckhallen which were inaugurated as a part of the museum complex in 2004. Grosse’s kaleidoscopic painting brings together colours and forms, natural and man-made surroundings and its visitors as participants in an allencompassing, pulsating interaction of hues. As the boundaries between objects and constructed space, and between horizontal and vertical orientations begin to melt away, new spaces emerge that are both artificial and ripe with associations, yet at the same time completely real and wholly abstract, forcing us to renegotiate our habitual ways of seeing, of thinking about, and of perceiving the world around us.

ART at Berlin - Hamburger Bahnhof - Katharina Grosse - 100620_016 Photo Jens Ziehe
„Katharina Grosse. It Wasn’t Us“, Ausstellungsansicht Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für
Gegenwart – Berlin, 2020 / Courtesy KÖNIG GALERIE, Berlin, London, Tokyo / Gagosian /
Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Wien © Katharina Grosse / VG
Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020 / Foto: Jens Ziehe

In the interior space, the painting’s support consists of the floor of the hall and a group of towering forms crafted from polystyrene. Grosse transposed these sculptural elements into their final size via a multi-stage production process involving incremental changes of scale. The objects were created using digital cutting technologies, with the shape of each element refined by hand before being processed into data via a 3D scanning system in order to mill the successive larger object. In a final step, the fullscale constituent parts of the sculptures were moved into the hall of the museum and assembled by a team of workers. Over several days the artist used a hot wire to create indentations and fine furrows in the fragile objects before covering them and the floor of the building with dynamic swathes of colour which were applied layer by layer with a spray gun. This painting process, in which the colours react differently depending on the surfaces they encounter and how densely they are sprayed, was continued outside. While the section of the painting located indoors is influenced by the architectural elements of the space and the ever-changing light conditions throughout the day and during the different seasons, the outdoor sections interact with the trees and greenery, the weather conditions and the day-to-day life of the square. Elements such as street lamps, bollards and stone kerbs also pierce the image. The setting is framed by the neighbouring buildings of the so-called Europacity, the extension and development of which is soon to replace the Rieckhallen which are currently used by the museum. This unique architectural landmark in Berlin, which was repurposed from its original use as a haulage depot into a museum space, has been the venue for numerous contemporary art exhibitions and projects since its inauguration in 2004. On this occasion the corrugated metal panels of the façade have become the support for an expansive painting that elevates the site (and the situation in which it finds itself) into a new realm of imagination and possibility.

ART at Berlin - Hamburger Bahnhof - Katharina Grosse - 100620_017 Photo Jens Ziehe
Katharina Grosse. It Wasn’t Us“, Ausstellungsansicht Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für
Gegenwart – Berlin, 2020 / Courtesy KÖNIG GALERIE, Berlin, London, Tokyo / Gagosian /
Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Wien © Katharina Grosse / VG
Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020 / Foto: Jens Ziehe

The choice of the location, as well as the many different factors and conditions that define it, have influenced the development of the painting, just as the permanently shifting lines of sight and unexpected encounters of the viewer affect the way the work is seen. In this sense, the work’s title, “It Wasn’t Us,” can be understood as a reference to the inherent complexity and unpredictability of a given situation, whether it be the conditions under which an artist creates her work, or the conditions under which it is later viewed. The results of our actions are always influenced by unexpected moments and experiences as well as blind spots that later serve to define a situation. Not every consequence of each action or every aspect of the resultant situation can be predicted in advance, yet it is our task to assume responsibility for the complete situation. With regard to the current coronavirus crisis, which gripped the entire world during preparations for the exhibition, the artist had the following to say: “Of course, I did not think about a pandemic as I was considering the exhibition’s title. But now more than ever we recognise that we cannot shy away from responsibility. For every action there is a reaction, and everything is mutually dependent. An entire system can slip out of control at the slightest change. This applies to an image, and it also applies to the real world.”

ART at Berlin - Hamburger Bahnhof - Katharina Grosse - 100620_022 Photo Jens Ziehe
„Katharina Grosse. It Wasn’t Us“, Ausstellungsansicht Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für
Gegenwart – Berlin, 2020 / Courtesy KÖNIG GALERIE, Berlin, London, Tokyo / Gagosian /
Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Wien © Katharina Grosse / VG
Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020 / Foto: Jens Ziehe

The exhibition “Katharina Grosse. It Wasn’t Us” was prepared over the course of two years and showcases an in situ-painting that stretches seamlessly across indoor and outdoor space, the largest such work to date by the artist in Europe. Previous site-related paintings, for which large-scale images emerged in public space, include “psychylustro”, created as part of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Programme (2014); “Rockaway”, produced for MoMA PS1-Programm ”Rockaway!” in Fort Tilden, New York (2016); and ”Asphalt Air and Hair” at the ARoS Triennale, Aarhus (2017).

The details of the work presented in Berlin are as follows:
Katharina Grosse
It Wasn’t Us (2020)
Acrylic on floor, polystyrene and bronze; paint on asphalt, concrete and metal
700 x 6,500 x 18,300 cm

Curated by Udo Kittelmann and Gabriele Knapstein.

 ART at Berlin - Hamburger Bahnhof - Katharina Grosse - 100620_009 Photo Jens Ziehe
„Katharina Grosse. It Wasn’t Us“, Ausstellungsansicht Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für
Gegenwart – Berlin, 2020 / Courtesy KÖNIG GALERIE, Berlin, London, Tokyo / Gagosian /
Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Wien © Katharina Grosse / VG
Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020 / Foto: Jens Ziehe

Biography

Born in Freiburg im Breisgau in 1961, Katharina Grosse studied at Kunstakademie Münster and Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. She held professorships at Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin (2000–2009) and Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (2010–2018).

Her recent institutional exhibitions and in situ paintings include psychylustro, for Philadelphia Mural Arts Programme (2014); yes no why later at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2015); Seven Hours, Eight Voices, Three Trees at Museum Wiesbaden (2015); Untitled Trumpet for the 56th Biennale di Venezia (2015); Katharina Grosse at Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden (2016); Rockaway! for MoMA PS1’s Rockaway programme in Fort Tilden, New York (2016); Asphalt Air and Hair at ARoS Triennial, Aarhus (2017); This Drove My Mother up the Wall at South London Gallery (2017); The Horse Trotted Another Couple of Metres, Then It Stopped at Carriageworks, Sydney (2018); Wunderbild at National Gallery in Prague (2018/2019); Mumbling Mud at chi K11 art museum in Shanghai (2018/2019) as well as at chi K11 art space in Guangzhou (2019); Mural: Jackson Pollock I Katharina Grosse at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2019/2020). Currently her show Is It You? is on view at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

ART at Berlin - Katharina Grosse - Portrait - Foto Robert Schittko ArtBeats
Portrait Katharina GrosseFoto: Robert Schittko, Art/Beats

Collections include Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; ARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst, Copenhagen; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Istanbul Modern; Kunsthaus Zürich; Kunstmuseum Bonn; Lenbachhaus, Munich; MAXXI – Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, Rome; Museum of Fine Arts Bern; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Pérez Art Museum Miami; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; and QAGOMA, Brisbane.

Among the honours she has received are the Villa Romana Stipend, Florence (1992), the Karl Schmidt-Rottluff Stipend (1993), the Fred Thieler Prize (2003), and the Oskar Schlemmer Prize (2014). She has been selected by The Federal Government as a jury member for the 2020–2023 stipends at Villa Massimo, Rome, Casa Baldi, Olevano Romano, and Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris.

Grosse lives and works in Berlin and New Zealand.

Notes on visiting the exhibition

The tour of the exhibition begins in the Historical Hall, leads through the large glass gate and out into the outside area, and finally invites visitors to visit the Rieck Halls, which are accessible via a side entrance that is open especially during the exhibition. The museum asks all visitors to treat the work of art with respect and not to damage it. The painting applied to the floor can be entered; touching the fragile painted bodies is not permitted. Please pay attention to the steps in the area of the painting (inside and outside), to the traffic outside and move carefully through the exhibition. Parents are liable for their children.

Catalogue

On the occasion of the exhibition, Hatje Cantz Verlag is publishing a comprehensive catalogue in German and English that documents the creation of the painting It Wasn’t Us and offers new perspectives on the artist’s oeuvre. The publication includes a foreword by Udo Kittelmann and Gabriele Knapstein as well as contributions by social anthropologist Julia Eckert, theater scholar Doris Kolesch, sociologist Martina Löw, curator Daniel Milnes, and literary scholar Heather I. Sullivan. Together with the writer Annika Reich, Katharina Grosse has developed the text “Painting is an Imposition” especially for the catalogue. The catalogue comprises 208 pages and numerous illustrations and will be published in August 2020 (price: 44 euros).

The exhibition is made possible by the Friends of the National Gallery and Volkswagen.

Opening hours

The original period from 24 April to 4 October 2020 has been postponed due to the closure of the museum caused by Corona. The Hamburger Bahnhof (Invalidenstraße 50/51, 10557 Berlin) will be open from 14 June 2020 during the special opening hours from Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets cost 10 €, concessions 5 €. The visit is only possible with a time slot ticket. In order to avoid queues on site, it is recommended to book this ticket online in advance: www.smb.museum/tickets.

Children and young people up to 18 years of age, persons accompanying severely disabled persons, holders of annual tickets, press, ICOM or DMB ID cards, as well as members of Friends of the National Museums in Berlin or Friends of the National Museums in Berlin are requested to book a free time slot online or at the ticket offices and to show the appropriate ID card upon entry without being asked.

Current rules for the visit

PLEASE NOTE: The number of visitors* is limited, taking into account the space available. All visitors over 6 years of age are obliged to wear a mouth-nose cover, keep a minimum distance of 1.5 metres, follow the signposted tours and avoid group formation in the rooms. Events and guided tours will not take place until further notice. The Hamburger Bahnhof shop is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 12 to 18 hrs. The Hamburger Bahnhof restaurant is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The exhibition is a special exhibition of the Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Exhibition period: Sunday, 14th June 2020 – Sunday, 10th January 2021

Zum Hamburger Bahnhof

 

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