Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein

 

Astrid Klein (b. 1951) is one of Germany’s most distinguished conceptual artists. Collage constitutes the main formal and artistic principal of her work. Her large-scale wall pieces often combine found images with her own text or quotes from philosophy, theory or science to illuminate suppressed aspects of the collective unconscious and to question conventional power structures and modes of representation. Her oeuvre—comprising photographic work but also neon and mirror sculptures, installations, painting and drawing—oscillates between poetry and criticism, skepticism and longing. The Cologne-based artist has been associated with the gallery since 1996.

Key features of Klein’s artistic and intellectual grammar can be traced to her earliest body of work. Her so-called Schwarze Bilder or Black Paintings (1974–77) on black silk depict faceless female bodies in miniature scenes steeped in mythology and symbolism; their imagery is juxtaposed with handwritten texts and hieroglyph-like signs. The series represents an almost somnambulistic attempt to situate oneself outside of patriarchal and political power structures, or at least take them on.

Klein radicalizes this grammar even further in early collages, including her iconic Les tâches dominicales (Sunday Works) (1980). The groundbreaking series incorporates visual material from photo-novels and stills from French New Wave and Italian neo-realist films. The artist combines these images—mostly photographs of women—with suggestive lines of text in French, English or German: “Tout est dans le regard,” “ich spüre nichts von dem, was er spürt” or “and realizes that any moment, any second her turn is coming.” Klein treats images and text as equally important visual elements. In doing so, she not only strips the photographic source material of its narrative logic; she also injects it with moments of ambivalence and subtle disturbance, engages sensually with media culture and sheds light on political and socio-critical issues.

While a number of Klein’s early collages find her using typewriter-labelled adhesive tape to connect individual image elements, the artist’s large-scale photographic works are created in a complex darkroom process that involves enlarging the found material in several steps, layering and adding drawing elements. The resulting “collage” is condensed in a single, large-scale photographic print. Series including CUT I–X (1986–96) or Frauenbilder (Images of Women, 2002–05) show, almost by virtue of their medium, how all power and representation structures—and the historical and social ideologies they entail—are nothing more than cultural constructs, there to be taken apart and reassembled. Informed by psychoanalysis, feminism and linguistics, Klein has applied her deconstructive approach to other media as well. The Weiße Bilder or White Paintings (1988–1993), rendered in white-on-white, make the invisible visible. Her Fliegenfänger sculptures (Flycatchers, 1981–91) incorporate mechanical and electrical fly traps while Spiegelarbeiten (Mirror Works, ongoing since 1991) find the artist taking up a 9mm revolver and spraying mirrors with bullet holes, shattering the viewer’s perception. Klein’s Neonskulpturen (Neon Sculptures, ongoing since 1991) are complex structures of neon tubes imprinted with enigmatic texts. While their lines are reminiscent of drawings, they also transpose the principle of collage into space.

Whatever medium Astrid Klein uses, the ultimate focus of her work is always the viewer. Her oeuvre never stops at simply undermining power structures and representation mechanisms or rendering them visible; it aims to dismantle them and to destabilize conventional pictorial. Poignant and impactful, her works often trigger a surprising moment of reflection in the viewer—and a possible interrogation of their own social constructs and ways of being in the world.

 

 

Astrid Klein: Transcendental homeless centralnervous
Falckenberg Collection, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, March 24–September 2, 2018
© Matthias Schönebäumer/Deichtorhallen Hamburg 2018
Works
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein
CUT II, 1986/1996

Astrid Klein
CUT II, 1986/1996
Transparent film
257 × 367.1 cm
101 1/8 × 144 1/2 inches

More views
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein
Untitled (je ne parle pas, ...), 1979

Astrid Klein
Untitled (je ne parle pas, …), 1979
Photograph based on a Collage
166.5 × 126 cm
65 1/2 × 49 5/8 inches

More views
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein
Untitled (What has happened to me?), 1992

Astrid Klein
Untitled (What has happened to me?), 1992
Scanachrome on canvas
190 × 150 cm
74 7/8 × 59 inches

More views
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein
Untitled, 1993

Astrid Klein
Untitled, 1993
Mirrors, dimensions variable
each: 165 x 124 x 2 cm
each: 65 x 48 7/8 x 7/8 inches

More views
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein
Untitled (LEPOSSIBLE), 1980

Astrid Klein
Untitled (LEPOSSIBLE), 1980
Photography based on collage
196 × 140 cm
77 1/8 × 55 1/8 inches

More views
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein
Untitled, 1979

Astrid Klein
Untitled, 1979
Photowork, zinc white on canvas
141.4 × 103 cm
55 1/2 × 40 5/8 inches

More views
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein
Untitled (prendre les hommes à d'autres pièges), 1988-93

Astrid Klein
Untitled (prendre les hommes à d'autres pièges), 1988-93
Acrylic, gypsum alabaster, mirror film, zinc white on canvas
165 × 160 cm
65 × 63 inches

Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein
Untitled (failure), 1987

Astrid Klein
Untitled (failure), 1987
Photowork (8 parts)
320 × 910 cm
126 × 358 1/4 inches

More views
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein
Flag II, 1988-93

Astrid Klein
Flag II, 1988-93
Oil on canvas
210 × 293 cm
82 3/4 × 115 3/8 inches

More views
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein
Untitled (Moral ist ein Loch im Kopf), 1991

Astrid Klein
Untitled (Moral ist ein Loch im Kopf), 1991
Scanachrome
170 × 145 cm
67 × 57 inches

More views
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein
Untitled (Spieler), 1979

Astrid Klein
Untitled (Spieler), 1979
Collage
163 × 127 cm
64 1/8 × 50 inches

Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein
Untitled (Die giftigen Fliegen …), 1988-93

Astrid Klein
Untitled (Die giftigen Fliegen …), 1988-93
Acrylic, gypsum alabaster, photo, zinc white on canvas
156 × 220 cm
61 3/8 × 86 5/8 inches

Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein
Untitled (j'ai enfermé hermétiquement un homme dans la pièce), 1980

Astrid Klein
Untitled (j'ai enfermé hermétiquement un homme dans la pièce), 1980
Inscribed tape, photo on cardboard
117 × 88 cm
46 × 34 5/8 inches

More views
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein
Untitled (memory overflow), 1998/2012

Astrid Klein
Untitled (memory overflow), 1998/2012
Neon sculpture: neon writing, cable, light bulb
183 × 240 × 23 cm
72 × 94 1/2 × 9 inches

More views
Details
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
CUT II, 1986/1996
Transparent film
257 × 367.1 cm
101 1/8 × 144 1/2 inches

Astrid Klein
CUT II, 1986/1996
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
CUT II, 1986/1996 (detail)

Astrid Klein
CUT II, 1986/1996
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
CUT II, 1986/1996 (detail)

Astrid Klein
CUT II, 1986/1996
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
CUT II, 1986/1996
CUTs, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, 2019

Astrid Klein
CUT II, 1986/1996
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (je ne parle pas, …), 1979
Photograph based on a Collage
166.5 × 126 cm
65 1/2 × 49 5/8 inches

Astrid Klein
Untitled (je ne parle pas, ...), 1979
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (je ne parle pas, …), 1979 (framed)

Astrid Klein
Untitled (je ne parle pas, ...), 1979
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (je ne parle pas, …), 1979
Eau de Cologne, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Hong Kong, 2019

Eau de Cologne
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, HK, March 27–April 12, 2019
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (What has happened to me?), 1992
Scanachrome on canvas
190 × 150 cm
74 7/8 × 59 inches

Astrid Klein
Untitled (What has happened to me?), 1992
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (What has happened to me?), 1992 (installation view)

Astrid Klein
Ohne Titel (What has happened to me?), 1992
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled, 1993
Mirrors, dimensions variable
each: 165 x 124 x 2 cm
each: 65 x 48 7/8 x 7/8 inches

Astrid Klein
Untitled, 1993
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled, 1993
transcendental homeless centralnervous, installation view, Deichtorhallen Hamburg – Falckenberg Collection, 2018

Astrid Klein
Untitled, 1993/2011
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled, 1993
mirror
165 x 124 x 2 cm
65 x 48 7/8 x 7/8 inches

Astrid Klein
Untitled, 1993/2011
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled, 1993 (detail)

Astrid Klein
Untitled, 1993/2011
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (LEPOSSIBLE), 1980
Photography based on collage
196 × 140 cm
77 1/8 × 55 1/8 inches

Astrid Klein
Untitled (LEPOSSIBLE), 1980
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (LEPOSSIBLE), 1980 (framed)

Astrid Klein
Untitled (LEPOSSIBLE), 1980
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (LEPOSSIBLE), 1980
Broken Heart, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, 2010

Astrid Klein
Broken Heart, Arbeiten von 1980–1995
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, September 3–October 23, 2010
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled, 1979
Photowork, zinc white on canvas
141.4 × 103 cm
55 1/2 × 40 5/8 inches

Astrid Klein
Untitled, 1979
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
transcendental homeless centralnervous
Installation view, Deichtorhallen Hamburg – Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg, 2018

Astrid Klein
transcendental homeless centralnervous
Installation view, Deichtorhallen Hamburg - Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg, March 24–September 2, 2018
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (prendre les hommes à d'autres pièges), 1988-93
Acrylic, gypsum alabaster, mirror film, zinc white on canvas
165 × 160 cm
65 × 63 inches

Astrid Klein
Untitled (prendre les hommes à d'autres pièges), 1988-93
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (failure), 1987
Photowork (8 parts)
320 × 910 cm
126 × 358 1/4 inches

Astrid Klein
Untitled (failure), 1987
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (failure), 1987
transcendental homeless centralnervous, installation view, Deichtorhallen Hamburg – Falckenberg Collection, 2018

Astrid Klein
transcendental homeless centralnervous
Installation view, Deichtorhallen Hamburg - Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg, March 24–September 2, 2018
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (failure), 1987
KLEIN/OLSON, installation view, The Renaissance Society, Chicago, 2017

Astrid Klein
KLEIN/OLSON
Installation view, The Renaissance Society, Chicago, April 22–June 18, 2017
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Flag II, 1988-93
Oil on canvas
210 × 293 cm
82 3/4 × 115 3/8 inches

Astrid Klein
Flag II, 1988-93
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Flag II, 1988-93
transcendental homeless centralnervous, installation view, Deichtorhallen Hamburg – Falckenberg Collection, 2018

Astrid Klein
transcendental homeless centralnervous
Installation view, Deichtorhallen Hamburg - Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg, March 24–September 2, 2018
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (Moral ist ein Loch im Kopf), 1991
Scanachrome
170 × 145 cm
67 × 57 inches

Astrid Klein
Untitled (Moral ist ein Loch im Kopf), 1991
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (Moral ist ein Loch im Kopf), 1991 (installation view)

Astrid Klein
Untitled (Moral ist ein Loch im Kopf), 1991
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (Spieler), 1979
Collage
163 × 127 cm
64 1/8 × 50 inches

Astrid Klein
Untitled (Spieler), 1979
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (Die giftigen Fliegen …), 1988-93
Acrylic, gypsum alabaster, photo, zinc white on canvas
156 × 220 cm
61 3/8 × 86 5/8 inches

Astrid Klein
Untitled (Die giftigen Fliegen …), 1988-93
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (j'ai enfermé hermétiquement un homme dans la pièce), 1980
Inscribed tape, photo on cardboard
117 × 88 cm
46 × 34 5/8 inches

Astrid Klein
Untitled (j'ai enfermé hermétiquement un homme dans la pièce), 1980
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (j'ai enfermé hermétiquement un homme dans la pièce), 1980
transcendental homeless centralnervous, installation view, Deichtorhallen Hamburg – Falckenberg Collection, 2018

Astrid Klein
transcendental homeless centralnervous
Installation view, Deichtorhallen Hamburg - Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg, March 24–September 2, 2018
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (j'ai enfermé hermétiquement un homme dans la pièce), 1980
KLEIN/OLSON, installation view, The Renaissance Society, Chicago, 2017

Astrid Klein
KLEIN/OLSON
Installation view, The Renaissance Society, Chicago, April 22–June 18, 2017
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (memory overflow), 1998/2012
Neon sculpture: neon writing, cable, light bulb
183 × 240 × 23 cm
72 × 94 1/2 × 9 inches

Astrid Klein
Untitled (memory overflow), 1998/2012
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Untitled (memory overflow), 1998/2012 (detail)

Astrid Klein
Untitled (memory overflow), 1999/2012
Details
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Current and Upcoming
Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

ASTRID KLEIN. DASS VOLLKOMMENE LIEBE DIE ANGST AUSTREIBE (THAT PERFECT LOVE DRIVE OUT FEAR)
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich
Collection+ I Gallery 27 and Wall east staircase
July 21, 2020–January 17, 2021

Astrid Klein (born 1951) is one of the most important voices in German post-war and contemporary art. […] Thanks to a generous grant from the Michael & Eleonore Stoffel Foundation, five of […] [her] works were acquired in 2019 for the Sammlung Moderne Kunst at the Pinakothek der Moderne. Now boasting a total of seven exhibits, Munich’s collection of key photographic works and collages from Klein’s oeuvre of the 1970s and 1980s going on show for the first time. A large-scale installation by the artist will also be on display: formed of gunshot-pocked mirrors, the work confronts visitors with their own distorted reflection as they make their way up to the first floor.

Link

Subjekt und Objekt. Foto Rhein Ruhr
Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Dusseldorf
March 21–August 16, 2020

In light of recent developments regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), exhibitions, events and talks are subject to change.

The exhibition presents central positions from three generations as well as similarities and differences between the artistic approaches, with a focus on positions that have received less attention. Subject and Object. Photo Rhine Ruhr with about 100 artists and more than 600 works undertakes a dialogic and thought-provoking examination of this development for the first time.

Link
Astrid Klein
Photo: Katja Illner
Exhibitions at Sprüth Magers
Astrid Klein

Eau de Cologne
Rosemarie Trockel, Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Astrid Klein, Marlene Dumas, Kara Walker, Cady Noland
March 27–April 12, 2019
Hong Kong

Eau de Cologne began as a series of exhibitions and three publications, organized by Monika Sprüth between 1985 and 1989, which sought to create a new dialogue around contemporary art. The exhibitions introduced a select group of young women artists, each of whom individually represented powerful attitudes and practices.

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Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
La Société du Spectacle
January 25–February 23, 2013
Berlin

The artist’s second solo show at the Berlin gallery will showcase work produced in the 1980’s, alongside a new series of collages. The title of the exhibition is taken from a work of philosophy and Marxist critical theory by French philosopher and artist Guy Debord. Published in 1967, the text focuses on ideas surrounding the degradation of human life, mass media and commodity fetishism, and comparisons between the role of religion and mass media marketing. Debord's critical view on social functions, values and structures of behavior are frequently repeated themes in Astrid Klein's work.

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Astrid Klein
Broken Heart
September 3–October 23, 2010
Berlin

The painter and sculptor Astrid Klein has been working at integrating text into her paintings for over three decades. In 1972, before she had even started her degree in Cologne (1973-77), she began to write several texts which she later printed onto hand-made paper. The topics of her own texts, as well as her later use of other textual sources, bear witness to her thoughts on literary, aesthetic, philosophical and scientific writings. In a fragmented and concealed way these various sources are incorporated into her Schriftbilder (text paintings) which make up the large majority of the exhibited works in Berlin.

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Astrid Klein
Astrid Klein

Astrid Klein
Les tâches dominicales
April 1–May 3, 2008
London

Born in 1951 and trained as a painter and sculptor, Klein is a manipulator of the photographic medium. Her photographs, paintings and installations contaminate, deconstruct and revive the relationship between the photographic image and text and can be interpreted as a metaphor for the estranged personal self and its representation in society. Like the work of Barbara Kruger and Cindy Sherman, Klein’s art is an expression of the burgeoning media culture of Western society in the 1970s.

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Press

Astrid Klein in der Galerie Sprüth Magers: Keimzellen einer künstlerischen Revolte
Der Tagesspiegel, article by Dorothea Zwirner, March 7, 2019

Critic’s Picks: Astrid Klein
Artforum International, article by Pujan Karambeigi, February 21, 2019

Wohin führt die Revolution?
Welt am Sonntag, review by Swantje Karich, February 3, 2019

Astrid Klein: Die Leitwölfin
Zeit Online, article by Tim Ackermann, June 11, 2018

Astrid-Klein-Retrospektive: Die Herrin der Fliegen
Süddeutsche Zeitung, article by Till Briegleb, April 18, 2018

Astrid Klein & B. Ingrid Olson // Profile of the artists
The Seen, interview by Alfredo Cramerotti, Spring 2017

Biography

Astrid Klein (*1951, Cologne) lives and works in Cologne. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the Käthe Kollwitz Prize endowed by the Academy of the Arts, Berlin (1997) and the KUNSTKÖLN-PREIS (now known as the Cologne Fine Art & Antiques Art Prize) in 2001. Her work has been the subject of many institutional solo exhibitions, including those at the Falckenberg Collection at Deichtorhallen, Hamburg Harburg (2018); The Renaissance Society, Chicago (2017); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2005); Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius (2003); Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2002); Neues Museum, Staatliches Museum für Kunst und Design, Nuremberg (2001); Kunsthalle Bielefeld (1989), travelling exhibition by the Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover; ICA, London; Vienna Secession and Forum Stadtpark, Graz (1989), and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul (1981). She has also participated in important group exhibitions, including those at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Dusseldorf (2016); Deichtorhallen Hamburg (2015); Städtische Galerie Karlsruhe (2013); Weserburg Bremen (2011); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2005). The artist also took part in the 14th Sharjah Biennial (2019), documenta 8 (1987) and the 42nd Venice Biennale (1986).

Education
1973–77 Fachhochschule für Kunst und Design, Cologne
Teaching
1993–2017 Professor, Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, Leipzig
1986 Visiting Professor, Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg
Awards, Grants and Fellowships
2001 Kunstpreis des Bundesverbandes der deutschen Kunstverleger
2000 Helmut-Kraft-Preis
1997 Käthe-Kollwitz-Preis, Akademie der Künste, Berlin
1992 Stipendium für Zeitgenössische Deutsche Fotografie. Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung
1991 B.D.I. Preis für gestaltete Räume (ARS VIVA)
1987 Karl-Schmidt-Rottluff-Stipendium
1986 Förderpreis Glockengasse, Cologne
1985 Annemarie-und-Will-Grohmann-Stipendium
1984 Förderpreis der Stadt Köln, Cologne
1983 Förderpreis NRW
1982 Arbeitsstipendium Kunstfonds e.V. Bonn
1980 Stipendium des Deutsch-Französischen Jugendwerks
Public Projects
2010–13 Neon installation, Neues Quartier am Fischmarkt, Muenster
1994 Leviathan, neon installation, Jakob-Kaiser-Haus, parliament building, Berlin
1991 Kalldewey - Farce, stage design, Botho Strauss, Theater Darmstadt
1986 Endzeitgefühle II (1982), Billboard, Subway Central Station, Hamburg
Public Collections
Bundeskunstsammlung - Sammlung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
Fundación "la Caixa", Madrid
Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin
Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg
Kunstmuseum Bonn
Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, Dusseldorf
Kunstsammlungen - Museen der Stadt Nürnberg, Nuremberg
Kurpfälzisches Museum, Heidelberg
Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach
Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig
Museum Folkwang, Essen
Museum Ludwig, Cologne
Museum Ostwall, Dortmund
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich
Sammlung Falckenberg/ Deichtorhallen, Hamburg
Sammlung Viehof, Mönchengladbach
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah
Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden
Tate, London
The Schaufler Foundation, Schauwerk Sindelfingen
Victoria and Albert Museum, London