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 Katharina Fritsch  (1956 - )

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Lived/Active: Germany      Known for: iconic surreal and sculpture, installation, audio, hyper-reality

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Ad Code: 2
Katharina Fritsch
from Auction House Records.
Geist and blutlache
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Katharina Fritsch is most widely known for her sculptures consisting of repeated shapes, and her use of single objects to evoke an emotional response from the viewer. She is recognized for challenging the perception of the viewer through art pieces that are both abstract and minimal.

Fritsch was born in 1956 in Essen, Germany where she lived with her family in the industrial district of the city. She wanted to be an artist at a very early age and her parents were both artistically inclined. Her father worked as an architect and her mother studied dancing and acting. Her grandfather was a salesman of Faber-Castell pencils and supplied her with drawing materials. He taught her how to draw and her father instructed her as well. She experienced her first substantial art education while attending the University in Munster where she studied art history. In the evenings she took drawing classes with Hermann Josef Kuhna at the Munster Volkshochschule. In 1978 Fritsch went to the city of Dusseldorf to see a performance at the Dusseldorf Art Academy. She immediately realized that she belonged there among the emerging artists and musicians. She moved to Dusseldorf in 1979 to study at the Art Academy with instructor Fritz Schwegler. At first she studied painting, then, after seeing the work of local artists Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, she shifted her attention to modern art and explored sculpture.

In 1979 she made small handcrafted sculptures, which reflected the loneliness she had felt as a child growing up in the industrial Ruhr district of Essen. These small objects represented her history and they enabled her to come to terms with what she needed to express as an artist. She did not want to limit her sculptural possibilities and considered working with multiple pre-made objects, and envisioned creating on a larger scale. As her style began to develop she put more emphasis on the perception of an object and the image that object projected on the mind. She was interested in removing objects from their normal environment by changing the scale of their size. It wasn't until after her separation from the Dusseldorf Art Academy in 1984 that Fritsch was able to explore elements of space and scale.

In the late 1980's she was invited to create pieces for various art exhibitions throughout Germany. Fritsch designed pieces based on the spaces where they were to be exhibited. Her scale increased dramatically from that point in her career, forward. Her large sculptures were often assembled using multiples of one object to create a larger structure. She stacked hundreds of Madonna figurines on a display stand to show the striking effect of a repeated pattern. In the 1990's she continued to arrange very large installations like the work she created for an exhibition at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1990. In this installment, Fritsch arranged thirty-two life-sized, sculpted poodles in a circle around a replica of an infant. The effect was a menacing tension between good and evil.

Fritch's artwork is consistent and elusive; it explores our perception of objects and forces the viewer to reflect on an existence outside of reality. Her work has been exhibited at the Messegelande, Dusseldorf, Germany (1984); The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1986); Galerie Ghislaine Hussenot, Paris (1989); and the Carnegie Institute, Pennsylvania (1991).


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