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Rosemarie Trockel


For decades, you have been enthralled by the provocative and poignant works of contemporary German artist Rosemarie Trockel. She has lived a fascinating life, creating an impressive body of work that has made her an influential figure in contemporary art. 

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Surname: Trockel

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For decades, you have been enthralled by the provocative and poignant works of contemporary German artist Rosemarie Trockel. She has lived a fascinating life, creating an impressive body of work that has made her an influential figure in contemporary art. 

Through her diverse range of artistic mediums and subjects, she has provided thought-provoking social commentary on gender, politics, and human behavior. Her unconventional and rebellious spirit has allowed her to push the boundaries of art in new directions. Though at times controversial, her art has enduring power and relevance.

Trockel’s life and career demonstrate what one person can achieve by following their creative passions without restraint. Her story serves as an inspiration, reminding you of the importance of independent thinking and having the courage to challenge conventions. Trockel has made a lasting impact on art and culture that will continue to spark conversation and shape ideas for future generations. 

Rosemarie Trockel BIOGRAPHY

Rosemarie Trockel
Image Credit: Wide Walls

Rosemarie Trockel is a German artist known for her diverse work, including sculpture, installation, painting, and knitting. Trockel emerged in the 1980s as a prominent figure in the international art scene and is considered one of the most influential contemporary artists.

Her work often explores themes of gender, identity, and the role of women in society. Trockel has been recognized with numerous awards and has exhibited her work in major museums and galleries around the world. Her innovative approach to art has made her a leading figure in the contemporary art world.

Early Life and Education

Rosemarie Trockel was born on November 13, 1952, in Schwerte, Germany. She grew up in a small Catholic village, where she developed an early interest in art. Trockel first studied art education, then switched her focus to fine arts at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where she earned her degree in 1978.

At the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Trockel studied under acclaimed conceptual artists like Nam June Paik and Joseph Beuys. Their influence inspired Trockel to take an unconventional approach to her art. She began experimenting with materials not traditionally associated with fine art, like wool, ceramics, and video.

After graduating, Trockel spent several years teaching art to support herself while developing her artistic style. During this time, she became fascinated with the idea of “women’s work” and feminine handicrafts like knitting, embroidery, and weaving. She started incorporating these crafts into her art to subvert traditional gender roles and challenge notions of high and low art forms.

What is Rosemarie Trockel known for?

Rosemarie Trockel
Image Credit: Wide Walls

Rosemarie Trockel is known for her conceptual and multimedia works that explore themes of gender and power. Her art challenges traditional notions of femininity and masculinity.

Career beginnings

Rosemarie Trockel
Image Credit: Wide Walls

The 80s:  Early Success and Recognition

In the 1980s, Trockel’s art began gaining widespread critical acclaim. Her wool paintings, incorporating knitted and crocheted patterns, brought her international recognition. These paintings established Trockel as a pioneer of post-modern art. 


Kassel, Germany

Her work was featured in the prestigious Documenta art exhibition.


Trockel’s art from this era often incorporated feminist themes and commentary on gender roles in society. Her unconventional, conceptual approach pushed the boundaries of traditional art and established her as a leader of the Neo-Conceptualist movement. 

By the late ’80s, Trockel had become one of Germany’s most prominent contemporary artists. Her art was exhibited in major museums across Europe, cementing her status as a pioneer in conceptual and feminist art.

Rise to Fame in the 1980s

Rosemarie Trockel gained widespread acclaim in the 1980s for her conceptual and multimedia art. Her rise coincided with a period when more women entered the art world and received critical recognition.

In the mid-1980s, Trockel began using wool to create paintings and sculptures to challenge the masculine association of art media like bronze and stone.

The Wool Paintings

  • First major series in 1984

She stretched and pinned knitted wool fabric onto frames like traditional canvas paintings. The texture and pliability of the wool gave the works a subversive, domestic sensibility. The Wool Paintings earned Trockel international attention for their originality and critique of gender roles in art.

Collaborations and Multimedia

Trockel was also at the forefront of postmodern art’s interdisciplinary approach. In the 1980s, she collaborated on paintings, videos, and publications with artists like:

  • Markus Oehlen 
  • Georg Herold 

In addition to painting, Trockel also began working in 

  • Film
  • Video
  • Sculpture
  • Collage
  • Photography

By the late 1980s, Trockel’s pioneering work across media as well as her feminist perspectives cemented her status as one of the most important artists of her generation. Museums and biennials around the world began collecting and exhibiting her work. 

Trockel’s rise in the 1980s demonstrated the growing acceptance of conceptual art, new media, and feminist art in the contemporary art world. Her groundbreaking, highly influential oeuvre has made her a seminal figure in late 20th-century art.

Rosemarie Trockel List of Work

Rosemarie Trockel
Image Credit: Wide Walls

Exploring Gender and Power Dynamics

The early 80s

Knitted pictures

This work incorporated wool, a material traditionally associated with female handicrafts, in non-traditional ways. The oversized and distorted knitted forms subverted the expectation of knitting as a domestic feminine activity.


Late 80s

“Pulp Paintings” series

This work featured enlarged reproductions of romantic pulp fiction covers with idyllic depictions of women. By resizing and transferring the images onto canvas, Trockel emphasized the artificiality of the gender stereotypes they portrayed.


“Penis Animals” series

This work incorporated phallic shapes into whimsical stuffed animal sculptures, confronting taboos around sexuality and desire.


“Schema der Sinnlichkeit” (Diagram of Sensuality) pieces

These pieces arranged ready-made objects, materials, and images into diagrammatic forms that suggested erotic encounters and relationships.

Spanning over 40 years, her influential body of work has made her one of the most important contemporary German artists. Through her incisive and unconventional art practice, Trockel has shaped new ways of thinking about gender and sexuality within a postmodern context.



Today Trockel is considered one of the most important contemporary German artists. Her works have been exhibited in major shows around the world and are part of prestigious public collections like:

  • Museum of Modern Art in New York
  • Tate Modern in London
  • Center Pompidou in Paris


“A Cosmos” exhibition

Held at the New Museum in New York featured giant knitted “paintings”.


“A House Full of Music”

This installation filled an entire floor of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne with a labyrinth of angled metal grates, knitted fabrics, and video screens playing a disturbing experimental film.


“Patterns of Thought”

This show at the Kunstmuseum Bonn featured a series of large tapestries depicting surreal and unsettling scenes, like a knitted figure trapped in a cage.


  • Awarded Kaiserring Prize for contemporary art in 2003 
  • Represented Germany at the Venice Biennale in 2005

By manipulating and subverting traditional craft materials and formats, she has created a conceptual and evocative body of work that provides insight into human relationships and psychology. Trockel’s impact on contemporary art will continue to be felt for generations.

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