Square Tubes, Series DW

Charlotte Posenenske

Materials: cardboard

"The objects are intended to have the objective character of industrial products.
They are not intended to represent anything other than what they are." - Charlotte Posenenske

Charlotte Posenenske was born in 1930 in Wiesbaden, Germany as Liselotte Henriette Mayer. Between 1951 and 1952 she studied at the Stuttgart Academy of Art under the famous painter Willi Baumeister. In 1959 she started her career as a freelance artist, which would last till 1968. Her marriage to architect Paul Posenenske (from 1955 till 1968) had a great influence on her development as an artist. She died in 1985 at the age of fifty-five in Frankfurt am Main.

EARLY CAREER                                                                                                                                                          

Posenenske began her artistic career in the theatre as a set designer and costume maker. In the theatre, she came into contact with large canvases and the many activities behind the scene. Working with large, yet easy to move props was a source of inspiration for her later work.

In addition, the feeling of community and cooperation within the theatre left a great impression; hundreds of individuals working together toward a common performance. It is a concept that will return in her art later on.


Posenenske tried not to stand out. This is due to her past and experiences during World War II; her Jewish ancestry got her expelled from school and she was forced to go into hiding for long periods of time. As an artist she too wanted to be part of a collective: art was not something that was created for and by individuals, but as a social action for an audience. To achieve this, art had to be manufactured on a large scale and easy to assemble. The cardboard Vierkantrohre were ideal transmitters for this idea. As a result Posenenske is considered one of the first to create participatory art.


As a final step in her artistic evolution she gave up on art all together, which today may be perceived as an artificial act. It can also be considered the ultimate outcome of minimalistic reduction. She went on to study sociology, which she felt had a greater impact than art, and worked as a sociologist in close partnership with the trade unions.


After her career in the theatre, Posenenske became a freelance artist. Her first works were inspired by rock formations. The non-figurative panels were made by applying stripes, streaks and smudges with a palette knife. Later, she started using new materials: coloured tape, spray cans, markers, metal, cardboard, and she adapted different imagery. Posenenske continued to experiment, which resulted in her abandoning the flat surface.

By folding, bending and reliefs she continued her transition away from the two-dimensionality. This carried on until she created her Vierkantrohre. First in galvanized steel, then in the easier to move and assemble corrugated cardboard. Her last works were the Drehflügel: accessible cubes that can be adjusted continuously by the public by opening or closing the revolving vanes. Her work was always in a style similar to Minimal Art.


The Series DW Vierkantrohre is the art of Posenenske in its purest form. She constructed these minimalistic cardboard tubes between  1967 and 1968. The hollow sculptures consist of various modules, making them adaptable to the available space. Each installation can be changed and altered, and like consumer goods the tubes can be reproduced endlessly. Despite their light materials, the installations can reach monumental proportions, but their market price is always the same. Posenenske made no profit on the Vierkantrohre, she simply used the market as a method of distribution.

Posenenske was influenced by Russian Constructivism and the Dutch De Stijl; she elevated both styles to accessible, purely architectural art with a social and participatory side.

The exhibition was realized in cooperation with G262 Sofie Van de Velde, Dr. Burkhard Brunn (Estate Charlotte Posenenske) and Galerie Mehdi Chouakri.

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