– Spring/Summer 2003

How to Write About... Jutta Koether

Bob Nickas

Jutta Koether, Antibody V (semi-popular painting), 1993, oil on canvas, 241 x 188 cm. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin.

Jutta Koether, Antibody V (semi-popular painting), 1993, oil on canvas, 241 x 188 cm. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin.

1. Choose the time of day and prepare the room accordingly. Place the desk by the window to catch the soft morning light. Set out a cup of green tea and a ruled notebook. Writing longhand is advised. Select a rolling-ball pen and watch the words glide across the page. That's the pen, in your very own hand. Or write while sitting on a park bench to screams of delight from kids as they swing back and forth. Writing as a playground? Painting as a playground? 'Higher, higher!' They demand to be pushed higher. Or write on the subway, rocked by the low rushing rumble and drone. New York City writing. 'Stand clear of the closing doors...'

2. Take an approach. The straight, critical appreciation to join the others? Add another respectable line to the bibliography. Or post-post-feminist theory - female first, painter second? For this the Americans are entirely to blame. Separating the men from the boys. All those barroom brawls, crashing cars. And what do you get for turning your back on painting from life? Pollock never painted another tree until he painted one with his own blood (an artist not known for red, or blue for that matter). It was Arthur Danto who once said that, at their very best, a room full of Morris Louis paintings was like drifting through the lingerie department at Bendel's. How utterly feminine! And yet painting remains on so many levels within the realm of men; a realm understood in the old-world sense. The painting kingdom is a realm of men, still to this day, and even effeminate men. (Or is it all Art

  1. John Miller, 'Jutta Koether', in Texte Zur Kunst, no.29, March 1998, p.121-23

  2. In an email dated 23 February 2003

  3. Sun Ra, 'The Space Age Cannot be Avoided', liner notes for the album SUPER-SONIC JAZZ, recorded in 1956 and released on the El Saturn label; reprinted for the CD reissue Evidence, 1991.

  4. In a Xerox flier that Koether produced for her show at Pat Hearn Gallery in New York in 1995.

  5. In an email dated 26 February 2003

  6. According to Koether, Völlig, which can be translated as 'entire', 'complete' or 'dead', is 'a kind of self-portrait modelled after a drawing by Klossowski, an image of a female narcissus gone awry ... you can't really tell whether it is a mirror image of the person, or if it just popped out of the woman's womb, or if it is a chopped off head ... the whole thing is quite a balancing act ... also of big strokes, bright colour effects and tiny ornaments ... me coming out of Gustave Moreau studies ... as well as Klossowski ... Klossowski and Axel Rose were my favourite "hysteric men" of 1990...'