No one shoots as quickly and sharply as Katharina Grosse: of all things, the German artist uses a spray gun to create her sprawling colour landscapes, which often leave the two-dimensional surface and continue impressively into the surrounding space.
Katharina Grosse – Studies under Gotthard Graubner and Norbert Tadeusz
Katharina Grosse was born in Freiburg im Breisgau on 2 October 1961. Her mother, Barbara Grosse, was artistically active herself, and her father, the Germanist Siegfried Grosse, later served as rector of the Ruhr University in Bochum. Katharina Grosse went to school in Bochum and then studied under Norbert Tadeusz and Gotthard Graubner at the art academies in Düsseldorf and Münster.
The spray gun as trademark
Not the brush, but first and foremost the spray gun. Katharina Grosse first picked up this special work tool in in 1989 when she sprayed green paint in a corner of the Kunsthalle Bern, and this type of painting technique has long since become her trademark. In 1998 she attracted attention at the 11th Biennale in Sydney with her large-format wall paintings, applied completely with the spray gun. The surfaces the artist claimed for her work quickly became ever larger and soon were not enough: Katharina Grosse began to break the boundaries and let her works increasingly grow into the exhibition spaces. She updates her work tools occasionally, being well informed which models are currently available on the market, carefully choosing one with suitable characteristics.
Increasingly complex installations
Meanwhile, the works of Katharina Grosse have become more and more extensive and complex. In order to be able to realise the sometimes-demanding installations, the artist consults her brother, an engineer. For her actual work, though, Katharina Grosse no longer requires helpers, but trusts in her own inspiration completely. In her white protective suit, it bursts out of her almost explosively when she creates her colour worlds with the compressor-driven paint gun. For the three-dimensional effect, rubble is piled up, pieces of furniture, lengths of fabric and other objects are arranged which serve as the basis for the artist’s sometimes almost organic paint application.
Painting as the extreme and the path to freedom
Katharina Grosse has received awards and honours, numerous invitations to exhibitions and also the appointment of Professor in Berlin-Weißensee and Düsseldorf. The everyday life of the artist, who deliberately pushes her painting to the extreme, is full to bursting and requires great organisational skills. The focus is always on art, with which Grosse wishes to influence the perception of her audience, thereby creating a perspective for alternative realities and gaining a new freedom. In doing so, not only museums and galleries offer her a stage, but also the profane public spaces with billboards, sport halls, canteens and stairwells are her territory, as is the private home. Always with colour, lots of colour, because the artist cannot imagine art without colour.
Katharina Grosse lives and works today primarily in Berlin where she had a new artists’ house built in Moabit in 2008. Because of the size of the house, in the surrounding neighbourhood she is jokingly called “Katharina the Great”.