Critics’ Picks

Katharina Grosse, Wunderblock, 2013, acrylic on glass-fiber-reinforced plastic, dimensions variable.


Katharina Grosse

Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora Street
June 1 - September 1

Naming her current show at the Nasher Sculpture Center “Wunderblock,” Katharina Grosse harks back to a familiar toy that allows children to write on its surface and then erase their marks with the lift of a cover. By using this gadget as an organizing theme, Grosse intimates that we should view her art as fugitive and ready to be rewritten. Ironically, two of the three works in the show are fixed monumental sculptures resembling giant fragments of animal bones, dragons, or crystal-shaped forms sprayed with a riot of rainbow colors. Perhaps such referents are meant to evoke dynamism or processes of change, yet the actual objects remain static. The one significant moment of implied movement occurs when the tail of one of the dragon-like sculptures crosses through the museum’s wall, extending from the interior room into the courtyard outside.

In the glass-enclosed gallery downstairs, by contrast, Grosse is more effective at interjecting the Wunderblock principle into her efforts. In this case, the entire floor of the room is carpeted with colored dirt. Grosse has sprayed intense hues of acrylic paint on the surface of miniature mountains and valleys; the initial impression is of the aftermath of an unnamed disaster. The addition of two enormous canvases leaning against the wall and partially buried recalls a vision of a landscape altered by human industry, yet now subsumed by the inevitable destructive flow of time. Despite these sour impressions, the view from the center of the room also brings to mind the celebratory event Holi, the Hindu festival of color. And like a revelatory festival, Grosse’s Technicolor dirt room is interactive and always shifting, as viewers tread upon the dirt mounds and pathways. Here Grosse efficiently highlights the parallels between the mutability of place and the flexibility of artistic genres—both historical and thematic.