Selected works by Jutta Koether

Jutta Koether
Frontage (Well, Show Me Nothing)


Oil on canvas

188 x 290 cm

Jutta Koether’s abstract paintings, with their translucent interconnected web patterns, fragments of texts and songs, are like a portrait of the artist in our times. She is a painter, but not only that. Interweaving soft, sinuous brushwork and delicate colouring with bold cartoon-style figuration and graffiti-making is just part of a bigger whole – an interdisciplinary artistic practice overlapping performance, music, writing and other activities, and reflecting her strong, feminist, punk/pop-influenced engagement with contemporary theory and culture.

Jutta Koether


Oil on canvas

250 x 200 cm

Koether used to edit the German culture and music publication Spex and has been based in New York since the 1990s. In her vibrant paintings she shows a fascination with the German ‘bad painting’ of Martin Kippenberger and Albert Oehlen, while taking unabashed pleasure in the physical, handicraft of art-making and its associations with traditional women’s work. Her lush style is reminiscent of the fluid nature of street art, DIY and self-published comic books, and shares a similar disregard for traditional ideas about technique.

Jutta Koether
Leibhaftige Malerei


Acrylic on linen

400 x 484 cm

Gesturing hands, legs and a face float amidst the sketchy greens of Mède (1992). Multiple embedded elements are fused into a swirling, magnetic whole whose stormy, messy layering includes a strangely pop ‘smiley face’ over the whole work. Frontage (Well, Show Me Nothing) (1994) features an exploding cartoon bubble at its centre, from which contradicting lines, figurative elements and letters radiate and intersect in thinned pastel shades. The lines recalling railway maps, a hand holding dollar bills in the upper right-hand corner and an open one at the centre of the canvas suggest multiple possible narratives in the sweeping abstract composition.

Leibhaftige Malerei (2007), an elegant large-scale painting, harnesses abstract abandonment into a dark forest scene depicting figures performing a mysterious act in the foreground. The painting fuses Koether’s interest in experimental technique with the primal, raw power of self-consciously primitivistic imagery.



The notion of seriously unserious painting has existed at least since Francis Picabia painted pulp-fiction nudes in the 1930's. It is part of the legacy of Martin Kippenberger, whose work is highly visible at the moment, but it also underlies the deliberately ersatz, curiously visionary work of Jutta Koether, a German musician, artist, critic and admirer of Kippenberger who has lived in New York since the early 90's. The 13 works here, presented with punk-elegant touches of Mylar and gold lam�, form an intriguing if somewhat uneven 16-year survey.

Ms. Koether's work defines painting as defiantly multipurpose; it provides pleasure, incites thought and questions assumptions about taste and technique. For much of the 1990's, she mixed graffiti-inspired brushwork, fluorescent colors (especially bright pink), fragmented images and assorted quotations on surfaces that had a vibrant, all-over undergrowth.



Installing a liquid-looking curtain of shining silver and gold Mylar ribbons at the entrance, Jutta Koether reconfigured Thomas Erben's gallery as an off-hours discotheque, walls painted a suitably Warhol-factory silver and a large fitness ball of the same hue placed more or less at the gallery's center. (Strobe lights played off its surface during the opening event.) A swath of gold lame fabric ornamented a highly reflective sheet of silver Mylar towards the rear. By way of introduction, the suitably festive Das Wunder (1990), more than 6 by 7 feet, is a sunny, balloon-red holiday of an oil painting. An epiphanic text in outlined block letters ranging across the painting's surface reads "Das Wunder ist wie immer" (wonder is as always), according to the artist a passage from a work by Thomas Wolfe. Replete with painted tangles of streamers if not confetti, the work served to trumpet a 15-year span of paintings by this much-lionized German-born New Yorker. Equally at home in a variety of disciplines including performance art, music, and rock and art criticism, she is a repeat alumna of Pat Hearn Gallery (six exhibitions there) and a teacher of painting at Cooper Union and SVA. Koether is also, by her own account, among the many admirers of Martin Kippenberger.

Electric orbs recalling the glowing eyes of the Replicants in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner look out from five of Koether's small acrylic-on-canvas portraits, all dated 2000. No more than 24 inches on a side, these paintings from the artist's "Hysterics" series have a funky urgency compounded by their serial repetition, as though.