Bauhaus Staircase: Dessau, New York, Tel Aviv
The work of Katharina Gaenssler interrogates the transatlantic transfer of ideas about modernity through an emphasis on high culture, the institutions that construct and manage it, and the architectural objects that represent those institutions. Her series of installations on the Bauhaus Staircase—built by Philip L. Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone in 1939 at the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)—combines images of the space at MoMA, the original stair in Dessau that it references, and photographs of the homonymous Bauhaus Stairway painted by Oskar Schlemmer in 1932 and, later, Roy Lichtenstein in 1988. This massive assemblage of images and locations becomes a traveling exhibition, first deployed in New York and then in Tel Aviv in the form of site-specific installations: life-sized collages grafted into the architecture of the venues. For the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Gaenssler presents a leporello containing all the original images used in the project—a mysterious object containing the visual source to her reconsideration of space and the institution.
Katharina Gaenssler studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich after she had completed an apprenticeship as a silversmith. She acquired a pre-eminent position reinforced by prestigious awards, such as the Bayerischer Kunstförderpreis, a US travelling scolarship from the Bavarian Government or a working scholarship of the Foundation Kunstfonds Bonn. She had a teaching grant at Brunswick University of Art and was Guest Professor at Hamburg Art Academy. Her work was shown in Germany and abroad, including Museum of Modern Art New York, Pinakothek der Moderne Munich, Folkwang Museum Essen; Sprengel Museum Hanover; Lenbachhaus Munich, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. Her works are held in the collections of Museum of Modern Art New York, Pinakothek der Moderne Munich, Folkwang Museum Essen, Bavarian State Library, Bibliothèque d'Art et d'Archéologie de Genève and Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden amongst others. Her publications Ephemer and SIXTINA MMXII were awarded by Stiftung Buchkunst Frankfurt as Best German Book Design.