Critics’ Picks

Katharina Grosse, Ingres Wood, 2018, acrylic on tree and fabric, 8 3/10 x 18 x 109''.


Katharina Grosse and Tatiana Trouvé

French Academy of Rome, Villa Medici
Viale della Trinità dei Monti, 1
February 2 - April 29

For the fourth and final event in “UNE,” a series of intergenerational exhibitions promoted by the French Academy, curator Chiara Parisi has constructed a dialogue between the massively scaled pictorial work of Katharina Grosse and the symbolic, graphic production of Tatiana Trouvé. Selected for their generational proximity and a shared approach based on the alteration of material and context, the artists interweave works from the past with new interventions, all installed in four contiguous areas of the Mannerist villa Medici.

The show opens with Trouvé’s sculptures Somewhere in the Solar System and The Great Atlas of Disorientation, both 2017. Constructions resembling provisional housing modules, made from thin painted metal sheets, books, and migration maps, suggest a rejection of the sedentary life in favor of an unconditional opening up to the world. Grosse’s Untitled, 2013, a silk tapestry bearing a digitally printed splotch of dark green spray paint in one corner, is a quotation of an initiatory gesture that the artist made in 1998 at the Kunsthalle Bern. In an adjacent room, Grosse repeats herself in similar fashion with Untitled, 2018, inserting her work between two sculptures by Trouvé, Notes on Sculptures, September 15th, “Jill” and Notes on Sculptures, September 15th, “Peter,” both 2016, two bronze tables that, like three-dimensional sketchbooks, annotate and support fragments from earlier installations.

The alternation of two artistic languages is interrupted with the vigor of Grosse’s site-specific work, Ingres Wood, 2018, which completely overwhelms the imposing Medicean staircase. For Ingres Wood, Grosse appropriated a series of large logs cut from a pine tree that Ingres planted in the villa’s garden when he directed the institution in the late 1830s. Demolishing any dimensional barrier, she imbues the logs with new life, transforming them into a pictorial support. A large cloth is spread out as a base along the staircase, on which viewers are invited to tread.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.