Katharina Grosse

Jul 8, 2013


Over the past two decades, Berlin-based artist, Katharina Grosse has become known for large wall paintings made in architectural spaces. Working with a spray gun, she animates walls, ceilings, and floors with a mélange of vivid colors ranging from the vibrant to the acrid. Since 2004, these immersive paintings have often included objects, such as clothes, soil, pieces of furniture, balloons, her own painted canvases, and, more recently, sculpted objects made from cut and laminated styrofoam. Taking inspiration from frescoes, plein-air painting, Abstract Expressionism, and urban graffiti, Grosse explores how painting can appear in space – in the realm of sculpture and architecture – by giving color monumental and palpable form.

Born in 1961, Grosse decided to study painting in part because it offered an immediacy of execution and effect unrivaled by sculpture, photography, and other media requiring additional tools and time to make the results of creativity visible. Spraying paint intensified this feeling of immediacy. As Grosse has explained, when a painter uses a brush, “it also covers what is being painted that very moment.” Spraying liberates Grosse’s vision, enabling her to paint as fast as her eyes can move. Furthermore, spraying enlarges her scope of application, generating the possibility of creating works far beyond the immediate scale of her body.

When Grosse sprays paint on walls, ceilings, and floors, she directly engages with architectural spaces. Unlike conventional easel painting, spraying has allowed her to move into areas that usually frame works of art rather than becoming the site of art themselves. Likewise, filling such environments with heaps of earth or sculpted styrofoam objects that also become additional surfaces for sprayed layers of paint richly complicates our experience of her art by allowing it to physically occupy our space.

Grosse’s exhibition for the Nasher Sculpture Center draws upon several aspects of her art. In the Lower Level Gallery, mounds of dirt will provide surfaces for her to paint in the days before the exhibition’s opening; after its completion, visitors will be free to walk into, and on, it. Upstairs, Grosse has responded to Renzo Piano’s architecture, the travertine walls and oak flooring of which cannot be painted, with a special work highlighting the relation of sculpture to her painting. In her Berlin studio, Grosse has carved and painted a large sculptural structure in styrofoam that will fill most of Gallery 1, abutting its garden-side window and continuing on the other side of the glass onto the terrace.

Katharina Grosse

Nasher Sculpture Center

June 1 – September 1, 2013
2001 Flora Street
Dallas, TX 75201