The social dimension in Charlotte Posenenske’s art
Charlotte Posenenske’s (1930–1985) concept of participation which envisages to engage others – the curators, the collectors, the audience – in the production of the artwork is the ultimate expression of the attempt to make her art accessible. Thus she places herself knowingly in the tradition of the Russiasn Constructivists of the 20th, especially of El Lissitzky who postulated to make the advanced art understandable by geometry. „The geometric shape is unambiguous i.e. immediately recognizable for all.“
All objects of the artist are stereometrically constructed, after she had given up the subjectivistic manner of informell painting at the end of the 50th. Like El Lissitzky she wanted to connect her art to the objective parameters of technology and architecture by elementarisation and standardisation. El Lissitzky postulated: „Art and technology a new unity.“
Not only geometry and participation are aspects of the accessibility but also the gap of 32 cm in the installation of the steel tubes exhibited in the avantgarde gallery art & project at Amsterdam in 1967. You could walk across the artwork – which was very unusual at that time, compared with the traditional way to contemplate an artwork from outside.
The revolving vanes constructed a bit later are cubes and prisms higher than mansize which you enter by moving the vanes of doorsize. They are transitrooms. At the opening of the first exhibition in the gallery Dorothea Loehr, Frankfurt/M 1967, the galerist, a slim lady in a white suit stepped out of the object that was closed before reading a text. Later young kissing couples and hide-and-seek playing children stayed within the artrwork.
The last object realized only after the artist’s death consistrs in two oversized mobile walls which form a cube in front of a corner when closed.Thus the artwork is integrated in the architecture. In the small, square cabinet you may sit at a little table, drink tea or read a book. Thus the artist had arrived – like El Lissitzky – at architecture in which we live and work. „Architecture – this is art on the highest level.“ The former spectator had become a collaborater who was involved not only mentally but physically as well. The spectator of art doesn’t stand any more in front of the artwork but is situated inside.
Consequently the artist didn’t hesitate to make her art usable, i.e. to transgress the traditional border between art and every day life. Again it was El Lissitzky whom she followed. As a consequence of this the public often took the steel tubes for a ventilation pipe. But the last step – from art to design – she didn’t take: the usability of her artwork is restricted, you can only stay inside. Charlotte Posenenske – in contrast to what the constructivists demanded – remained on the base of art. She didn’t realize the usability effectively (by design), but prefered the allusion. She had arrived at the border of art. Then she gave up art – the art szene was puzzled. She had ended her way from painting to architecture. Regarding her rather small oeuvre, completed in the shortest time, you may come to the conclusion: she had finished her oeuvre which forms a rather consistent whole.
Always and again Charlotte Posenenske has been misunderstood as a political artist. The social dimension of her art is confined in making it more accessible. Her art is political only in so far as she tried to make her art more democratic by partizipation and keeping the prizes as low as possible.