Gropius Bau

Rebecca Horn

05 Oct 2006 - 15 Jan 2007

Rebecca Horn
Drawings, Sculptures, Installations, Films 1964–2006
5 October 2006 – 15 January 2007

A major Rebecca Horn exhibition is being staged in the Martin-Gropius-Bau in autumn 2006. It will be the first comprehensive exhibition since 1994 of the works of this internationally renowned artist, who lives in Berlin. Installations, drawings, sculptures and films from 1964 to 2006 will be present in a very personal way by the artist in twenty rooms at the ground floor of the Martin-Gropius-Bau. In the central hall Rebecca Horn show a new installation called “The universe in a pearl”.

Rebecca Horn is a leading protagonist of a development that began on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1960s and demonstrated the absurdity of traditional concepts of art.

The occasionally contrary forms and concepts which emerged at that time in New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Milan and Düsseldorf, completely revolutionising the prevailing system of strategies for expression and design, were a source of inspiration to Rebecca Horn. During a tedious phase of her convalescence in the late 1960s, she began exploring new artistic opportunities and developed a genuine form language for her existentially founded ideas. However, it was far from clear at the outset just how grandiose her burgeoning oeuvre would become.

Be that as it may, there has long been an appreciation of the latent connections between her works and the powerful Performance, Arte Povera, Fluxus and Conceptual Art movements. Hence, in the European context, Rebecca Horn’s name can be mentioned in the same breath as those of Joseph Beuys, Jannis Kounellis and Mario Merz and, in the American context, of Bruce Nauman and Vito Acconci.

The purpose of such references is not to indicate any dependencies or mutual influence but merely to draw attention to a complex of fundamental ideas linking these artists. They all reflect, albeit in a very different aesthetic manner, the dialectic between individual and society, past and present, material and significance, time and space, and spontaneity and control, thereby rejecting any kind of formalistic art such as l’art pour l’art.

The exhibition brings together a wide-ranging complex of early drawings produced in conjunction with her performances between 1970 and 1975. Along with the relevant objects which other actors and occasionally she, too, used at that time, the drawings reveal the intense physical and mental endeavours that went into the aesthetic form of the performances. A selection of diagrammatic representations also illustrates the well thought-out strategy the artist pursued in placing the machines and equipment, which played an important part in her first major film Eintänzer (1978), in the context of exhibitions, where they took on a life of their own. Moreover, it appears sensible to integrate individual drawing and painting machines into the project as well as a number of other installations that are of significance in this context.

Forming the backbone of the exhibition is Body Landscapes. Shown in the North Rhine-Westphalian Art Collection (K20) at the end of last year, the exhibition has been greatly extended for Berlin to include a large number of new work complexes.

‘Drawing has always been supremely important to me’, Rebecca Horn said in an interview a few years ago. That may come as a surprise, given that her fame as an artist stems primarily from the fact that her oeuvre rests on very different media. Since the early 1970s she has produced performances, objects, installations, videos and films, gaining rapid international recognition in the process. Photos, collages, prints and drawings came later, but attracted less attention. Several books of aphorisms, short stories and poems – while markedly independent in terms of their literary form – repeatedly provide telling insights into examples of her creative work in other genres.

The exhibition will be held from 5 October 2006 to 15 January 2007 on the ground floor and in the atrium of the Martin-Gropius-Bau. Previously staged in London and Lisbon, the exhibition on show in Berlin will be on a much larger scale. The catalogue will also be redesigned, complemented and extended.

Since the late 1970s Rebecca Horn, who was born in the Odenwald region, has produced an oeuvre consisting of a steadily growing stream of performances, films, sculptural space installations, drawings and painted-over photos. The distinctive character of her world of images consists in the extremely precise physical and technical functionality with which the artist presents her sculptures and the sequences of movements they perform in spaces.

In her first performances, the body extensions, she explored the balance between people and space. In her subsequent spatial compositions she replaced the human body by kinetic sculptures performing the very slightest of movements. Completely immaterial in nature, her latest works involve the use of mirror reflections, light and music to document the field of energy inherent in a space.

Rebecca Horn’s works have been displayed in leading international institutions. They include:
M.O.C.A., Los Angeles (1990)
Guggenheim Museum, New York (1993)
Nationalgalerie, Berlin (1994)
The Serpentine Gallery, London (1994)
Tate Gallery, London (1994)
Carré d’Art, Nimes (2000)
K20, Düsseldorf (2005)

She has received numerous honours and prizes for her works, including the documenta Prize (1986), the Carnegie Prize for The Hydra Forest, Performing Oscar Wilde (1988) and the Imperial Ring of the City of Goslar (1992). Rebecca Horn lives in Berlin and Paris. She is a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts.

Published by Verlag Hatje Cantz
300 pages, price at the exhibition € 32.00

© Rebecca Horn
The Twin of the Raven, 1997
Photographer: Attilio Maranzano

Tags: Vito Acconci, Joseph Beuys, Rebecca Horn, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, Bruce Nauman