The word that springs to mind when I’m standing in front of a work by Katharina Grosse is surrender.
You grew up in the Ruhr Valley, a coal-producing region of Germany, and are the child of an artist mother and linguistics professor father. How did your upbringing shape your artistic sensibility?
Well, the area where I grew up was working-class. It was very multilayered, socially. I grew up with art, music and books but the town also had a very progressive theatre, which was subsidised by the government. This is very special in Germany because it’s still a feudal system there. Since I was about seven, I attended performances with my parents, often because of a lack of babysitter. The town also had a soccer club and I grew up loving soccer. I was really obsessed! Even today, I follow the newest philosophies about playing the field and anticipating reactions.
You went to art school in the mid-’80s in Düsseldorf when Gerhard Richter and Nam June Paik were on staff. Although you dabbled in video art, you later settled on painting. What attracted you to painting? I decided on painting as a medium because it allowed me to work alone. That was the start. I had the feeling I couldn’t work in a team. Also, I understood very early that what drew me to painting was its quality of time. Everything that exists on a painting is present at the same time and it’s the only medium I know that enables this. I’ve always thought painting presented an abstract way to relate to time and narration... Subscribe to read this article in full
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