The first time I saw Katharina Grosse’s work was in Berlin at Hamburger Bahnhof in 2000. She was showing two freestanding walls, each about 4 meters high and 15 meters wide, that formed an L shape. On the inner walls she had spraypainted a lot of red, some light green and blue, and in the middle an expanse of white. The brushstrokes were clear, sweeping movements from side to side—easy and generous gestures. On the outside of the walls she had used a roller to paint up and down in a somewhat stricter, more regular pattern: light brown along the top and bottom edges, and a larger area of purple, green and white pastel tones in the middle. I was struck by how boldly her paintings inhabited the vast exhibition space and became curious to see more of her work.
I got in touch with Katharina about a year before the exhibition at Magasin III was to open. After a series of emails, she came to Stockholm for two days in May 2003. At that time I was busy organizing two upcoming exhibitions. One of these was the incredible drawings by Henry Darger. The Darger drawings were on loan from a private collection and there were strict conservation requirements regarding lighting conditions. In order to meet these conditions, we painted the rooms dark blue. Katharina would be creating her paintings directly on the floor, walls and ceiling of this same space. We decided to leave the blue walls so that the new work would be painted on top of that color rather than over the usual museum white.
On January 27, 2004, Katharina wrote in an email:
“i’ll be in berlin and it would be great to discuss the show in my studio. i am already quite advanced but might change things again. there is actually a very interesting piece i have done last week in my bedroom in duesseldorf, where i painted a lot including bed, writing desk, books etc.”
This painting, which sprawled over her own bedroom, directly onto the bed and all the objects in it, was a thrilling step in Katharina’s practice that she developed further in Stockholm—here too with the inclusion of a bed. It was the first time she painted directly onto objects within an exhibited work, thus planting the seed for future objects and three-dimensional paintings she has created in subsequent years.
At the end of February and beginning of March 2004, Katharina painted from morning to night at Magasin III for nine days straight. She chose fifteen different colors that we had prepared in bottles. The days Katharina spent in Stockholm followed largely the same pattern: I picked her up at the hotel, we stopped for coffee at a café, and the first conversation of the day began. Then we drove to Magasin III and Katharina began to paint while I continued work on the catalog and other matters. We took breaks together throughout the day in order to discuss the exhibition. In the evenings we ate dinner and continued our conversation. Katharina is an immensely inquisitive person who enjoys discussing just about anything. I remember that we talked a lot about dance, choreography, and movement as it relates to painting, which is an exciting topic in relation to Katharina’s work. She is from Wuppertal, Germany, where the renowned choreographer Pina Bausch and her company were active during Katharina’s youth.
As I write this text it has been ten years since that first exhibition, which was aptly titled Infinite Logic Conference. Katharina and I have kept in touch over the years, meeting up in different places and I have visited her studio many times. It felt like it was time to reconnect, so we have planned a new exhibition using the 2004 exhibition as a starting point. Presenting Katharina’s work with works by Sol LeWitt and Walter De Maria from the collection of Magasin III. The exhibition wizz eyelashes includes two new productions that once again break new ground. One new textile work indoors and another work taking her monumental spherical paintings outdoors to a public square in central Stockholm.
Richard Julin, June 2014