press release

11.03.2023 - 22.04.2023

Rebecca Horn. Labyrinth of the Soul: Drawings 1965-2015

Sean Kelly is delighted to announce Labyrinth of the Soul: Drawings 1965-2015, a major exhibition featuring fifty years of drawing by Rebecca Horn. This historical presentation, which includes rarely seen works on paper, will open in the New York gallery in January before traveling to Sean Kelly, Los Angeles in March, two cities in which Horn lived and for which she has a strong affinity. Horn’s first exhibition with the gallery in nine years, this significant survey will be the first opportunity for visitors to see many of these critically important works, most of which have never been shown in the United States. The occasion also marks the thirty-four-year professional relationship between Rebecca Horn and Sean Kelly.

This extraordinary exhibition, which includes 55 works on paper, is the first dedicated exclusively to this aspect of Rebecca Horn’s practice, and the most extensive presentation of her work in the United States since her major retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1993, curated by Germano Celant. From her earliest stages as an artist, drawing has been foundational and informed every aspect of Horn’s multi-faceted oeuvre, ranging from performances, which utilize bodily extensions, to feature films, poems, dynamic sculptures, and site-specific installations. Throughout her career, drawing has occupied a central role, with Horn working serially at different moments to create specific bodies of work, ranging from smaller, more intimate pieces to the later, large Bodylandscape works on paper.

The earliest works in the exhibition, dating from the mid-1960s, evince Horn’s concern with the human form, bodily appendages, states of transformation, mechanization, and machinery, making evident her dedication to the aesthetic form of performance. In 1968, Horn was hospitalized for a debilitating lung condition brought on by certain sculptural materials she was using. A subsequent period of convalescence at a sanitorium inspired a series of sculptures concerned with the body, isolation, and physical vulnerability. These themes became the artist’s subject, and her proposals for sculptures are documented in these early drawings. Other works, from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, demonstrate the myriad approaches Horn has taken to the form, with each cycle of drawings having a distinct tempo, like the cadence of the poetry or rhythm of the music that have continuously inspired her. For her smaller drawings, Horn often worked simultaneously across multiple sheets of paper laid out before her, adding marks and details as she moved delicately and quickly, fluttering across the paper’s surface like a butterfly, touching down on each sheet at various intervals to make her marks.

From around 2003-2015, Horn produced an impressive group of large-scale works referred to as Bodylandscape, paintings on paper that extended her interest in the body as machine into an autobiographical, performative arena. Incorporating pencil, acrylic, and watercolor and gouache with text, these energetic works are scaled to the artist’s own proportions, defined by the limit to which her arms could extend when building the sometimes-frenzied compositions through the movements and actions of her own body. Horn’s progression from attaching performative apparatus to her body in her early work, to creating mark producing automatons and sculptural machines, is synthesized in these stunning works, which replace the replicant machine with the body of the artist, bringing the arc of her career full circle. In 2015, Horn suffered a devastating stroke, which sadly left her unable to continue making drawings, resulting in these psychologically charged works being among the final and finest works on paper that she produced.

Following the New York installation of Labyrinth of the Soul, the exhibition will travel to Sean Kelly, Los Angeles, marking a homecoming of sorts for the artist. Rebecca Horn lived in Los Angeles from 1972-73 and was active with a circle of artists including John Baldessari and Eric Orr, amongst others. This will be the most significant presentation of Horn’s work on the West Coast since her 1990 exhibition at MOCA, Los Angeles, entitled Driving through Buster’s Bedroom, which was curated by Elizabeth Smith. Labyrinth of the Soul will provide viewers newfound insight into the artist’s practice and offer intriguing discoveries regarding Horn’s formal and informal relationships with artists ranging from Joseph Beuys, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Tinguely, Méret Oppenheim, Willem deKooning, and Hans Bellmer, amongst others.

Horn has been the subject of major solo exhibitions at venues around the world, including the Museum Tinguely, Basel; Centre Pompidou-Metz, France; Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, Germany; Tate Modern, London; the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow; the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi; the Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge; Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; MOCA, Los Angeles; the Neue National Galerie, Berlin; the Kunsthalle Wein; the Serpentine Gallery, London; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva; the Kunsthaus Zürich; and the Anthology Film Archives, New York, amongst others. She has been included in group exhibitions at institutions including LACMA, Los Angeles; MoMA P.S.1, Long Island City, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany; and MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, Bologna, Italy amongst others. Horn’s work has been presented at this year’s 59th Venice Biennials, as well as the 47th and 42nd editions and at documenta 5 and documenta 9. Her work is included in public collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; the Tate Gallery, London, United Kingdom; Van Abbenmuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Turin, Italy; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; and the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville, Spain, to name a few. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including the 2017 Willhelm Lehmbruck Prize, Lehmbruck Museum; the 2016 Ordre pour le mérite des Arts et des Sciences, France; the Grande médaille des arts plastiques from the Académie d’architecture de Paris, 2011; the 2010 Premium Imperiale Prize, Japan, and the 1988 Carnegie Prize.