Rosemarie Trockel

Rosemarie Trockel, born in 1952, lives and works in Berlin and Potsdam. In 1999 she became the first female artist to represent Germany at the Venice Biennial, and in 1997 she took part in the documenta X at Kassel. In 2011 she was awarded the Kaiser ring Goslar, 2014 the Roswitha Haftmann Price in Zürich.

Rosemarie Trockel and The Laughing Cow®.
Pattern is a Teacher

The 2021 edition of the Collector’s Box consists of not one but three boxes. The three tins feature an abstract tricolor pattern — blue, red and white, the three colors of the ‘traditional’ round box of The Laughing Cow®, but also those of the French flag. In 1996, Rosemarie Trockel already used these three colors in a small tapestry (Untitled). The work was made with the flag of the United States in mind, but it can just as easily be read as an allegory of the motto of the French Republic: “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” — the same color code and the same wavering of certain democratic values.

Specially designed by the artist for this edition, the tricolor patterns of the Collector’s Edition Box 2021 can suggest a cow’s head. Excluding any other motif, one of its three versions functions as a small abstract sculpture. The other two boxes feature the red silhouette of The Laughing Cow®, one as a simple silhouette, the other as a fully detailed and identifiable profile. The three boxes thus represent an evolution, a kind of metamorphosis, since one can go from the more realistic to the more symbolic, from the face to the motif, and vice versa.

The “pattern” can provide a framework for our thinking, give structure to things, and even make thinking an eternal beginning. The notion can also be applied to recurring behaviors, which can define a society and often determine our habits.

Several women artists have been weaving patterns, from Anni Albers’ tapestries to the abstract painted grids of Agnès Martin. Here, Rosemarie Trockel doesn’t simply repeat the colors and shape of the iconic cow’s head. Its interlocking effects imply a form of repetition that is multiplied by the industrial process of making the boxes, where it seems to be repeatable indefinitely.

Sometimes, it takes a long time to understand the personal universe of an artist. Especially when we are confronted with a multitude of other universes orbiting around art, or when we have to question our certainties about society, gender, culture, music, politics, literature, or marketing… Sometimes, more simply, this specific universe echoes our own way of thinking. The main objective of Rosemarie Trockel’s universe is to always raise questions; thus arises the question of interpretation of a work. The artist seems to assert that a universe is woven of continually intertwined things, and that the world of art is never hermetically sealed off from other fields — indeed, it is often a springboard that allows us to make connections with things we have never been told or taught.

Silvia Guerra, curator of the 2021 edition of the Collector’s Edition Box.