About Minimal / Industrial Art
In this documentation we introduce the German artist Charlotte Posenenske who spent ten years of her life working as an artist (1958-1968), producing paper works, serial objects and using blank materials of everyday life.
documenta 12 Works
Beating the art historians to the task, Charlotte Posenenske herself systematically arranged into work lists those works she made between 1958 and 1968. Just as she had suggested, these works were later categorised and ordered chronologically: As works on paper, pictures with a sculptural quality (made of sheet metal), multi-part so-called reliefs (made of metal), square pipes (made of corrugated cardboard or tin), and those revolving vanes (made of wood) which she produced last in her career. Her work thus expanded from two-dimensional visual space into three-dimensional real space. She always followed the cues given her by her materials.
Commenting on her sculptural pictures, Posenenske writes: “They are reminiscent of impressions from our technical environment: Illumination effects, fast driving, spaces of roads or air that narrow, or bulge forward or bend backwards. At the same time, they are reminiscent of our technological environment – suggesting parts of automotive chassis, billboards, warning signs whose production is similar in terms of technology.” Analogies to industrial products are also evident in the square pipes and revolving panels. Posenenske makes a performance of the possibilities inherent in shifting and combining: Assistants wearing overalls were given instructions to re-form the objects. She herself documented Reliefs Serie B (1967) in front of a car, a configuration of her Vierkantrohre Serie D (Square Pipes Series D; 1967) on a traffic island in Offenbach, Germany, and a Drehflügel Serie E (Revolving Vanes Series E; 1967/2007) at Frankfurt airport. She wanted to test the forms in proximity to their sources of inspiration. With her schematic, lettered titles, choice of material, and mode of production, she imitates industrial processes and undermines the notion of the author.
Ultimately, Posenenske’s work is difficult to categorise: True, it has similarities with contemporary U.S. minimal art or pop art, both in its choice of materials and its imitation of everyday objects. These genealogical lines provide the artist with a concrete link to the Modern. Her relationship to art, however, was always ambivalent. At documenta 4, for example, she distributed pamphlets against art, and in 1968 she switched from art to sociology.
documenta 12 exhibits Charlotte Posenenske’s work at various sites. These works, representative of her fast evolving periods of creation, clarify the principle of repetition to which she committed herself so rigorously. The Streifenbilder (Stripe Pictures; 1965) are concentrated attempts to apply paint in a new way. At that time, she not only used primary colours, but also green, purple, orange, grey, and other colours. The diagonal, vertical, and horizontal lines – paying homage to the artist group De Stijl – she used broad felt-tip pens and narrow chalks. These pieces are well-arranged, clear experiments in colour and composition and thus also experiments in perception. They clearly demonstrate that different materials become more prominent because of expression, material, form, or means of production. Posenenske addresses the question of composition and tries to dissolve the hierarchy inherent in painting by taking a constructive approach. Plastisches Bild (Plastical Picture; 1966) is a metal sheet sprayed white, and crosswise bent. On the various sculptural pictures, the artist creates “ridges, intersections, pyramids, bulges, steps, corners, beams, folds, funnels”. Thus she hints at a three-dimensional form in the originally two-dimensional material, paving herself a path to objects in real space.
It is their industrial production and seriality which link Posenenske’s Reliefs (1967) to minimal art: They are rectangular metal sheets made of aluminium and steel that have concave and convex bulges. During this work-phase, she moves into actual space, because the material – steel – is edged and painted on all sides with the industrial colours RAL (European Colour Standard) yellow, red, blue, or black. 4 Reliefs, Elemente der Serie B (4 Reliefs, Elements of Series B; 1967), are serially produced, sprayed yellow, and can be hung at the wall or laid on the floor. She then produced objects not unlike ventilation vents: Vierkantrohre Serie D(Square Pipes Series D; 1967), made out of galvanised steel sheets, and Vierkantrohre Serie DW (Square Pipes Series DW; 1967), made out of corrugated cardboard. Both systems consist of several parts that can be freely combined. They are hollow and can be bolted together. Then there are three replicas, made of pressboard, of Drehflügel Serie E (Revolving Vanes Series E; 1967), reconstruction 2007.
Posenenske says, “the most important thing is that they can be turned and thus change their position to each other and to the space they are in”. Fingerprints and other traces of use were intentionally retained. In the course of its100 days run, documenta 12 visitors will leave their own traces on the reproductions. Apart from the reproductions in original size, a print, Konzept (Skizze) Drehflügel Serie E (Concept (Sketch) Revolving Vanes Series E; 1967/1968), will also be shown, which is hardly distinguishable from industrial designs.
From: documenta 12
© Jochem Hendricks; Burkhard Brunn; Photo: Roman März / documenta GmbH, Irmgard Berner / nurart.org
Courtesy Galerie im Taxispalais