Tomma Abts

(b. 1967)

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El Lissitzky (1890—1941)

Turner Prize


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(1967– )

German painter, born in Kiel. She moved to London in 1995 and has established a considerable reputation with a distinctive form of abstract painting. She uses a consistent format, always working on vertical canvases of 48 × 38 cm. The scale and vertical alignment tend to confront the spectator in the manner of a portrait. The titles of the paintings are all taken from a dictionary of regional German names, so enhancing the sense of a human presence. As the critic Jan Verwoert points out, unlike the travels into outer space and the future offered by early abstract painters such as El Lissitzky, Abts' work takes abstraction ‘down from heaven’. Although her paintings appear precise in their execution, they are the result, not of exact preplanning, but of a gradual process of adaptation and accretion. This sometimes results in quasi-illusionistic effects of space or light and shade, occasionally in close approximations of actual objects. The layers of accretions of thin paint recording the changes to the picture are just visible in relief. Abts was awarded the Turner Prize in 2006.

http://www.tate.org.uk/onlineevents/webcasts/turner_prize_2006/tomma_abts/default.jsp Tomma Abts in conversation with Jan Verwoert, Turner Prize artist's talk, Tate website.

Subjects: Art.

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