Tomma Abts

Texts by Bruce Hainley, Laura Hoptman, and Jan Verwoert

Each Tomma Abts painting is the result of an intuitive process, a complex operation of addition and subtraction. Within rigid parameters – unvarying materials and size – she conjures a progression of shapes and colors, building layer upon layer of seemingly spontaneous geometry until the work reaches its culmination: an abstract arrangement in perfect tension.

This volume, the artist’s first extensive monograph, provides a comprehensive survey of her work, with full-color images of thirty-seven paintings and eighteen drawings, as well as three specially commissioned essays. In the first essay, Laura Hoptman dismantles abstraction’s historical framework to illustrate the uniqueness of Abts’s approach. Jan Verwoert mediates on the subversive power of contemplation, finding in Abts’s artistic process a validation of “the beauty of latency.” And Bruce Hainley gazes at Abts’s work through the fictional eyes of Margit Carstensen – actress, muse, and star of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant.


Publisher: Phaidon

Artists: Tomma Abts

Contributors: Bruce Hainley, Laura Hoptman, Jan Verwoert

Publication Date: 2008

Binding: Hardcover

Dimensions: 8 1/4 x 10 1/4 in (21 x 26 cm)

Pages: 136

Reproductions: 60 color

ISBN: 9780714848822

Retail: $50 US & Canada | £28 | €40

Status: Not Available

Tomma Abts

Tomma Abts makes complex paintings and works on paper whose subject is ultimately the process of their creation. She begins each work with no preconceived composition and idea, and without preliminary sketches. Guided largely by intuition, she nevertheless works within precise parameters. The paintings’ evolution is evidenced by ridges and uneven texture—the result of methodical overpainting and reworking of the image. While abstract, the works are still illusionistic, rendered with sharp attention to shadows, three-dimensional effects, and highlights that defy any single, realistic light source. The resulting canvases convey balance and movement, while maintaining a sense of uncertainty, which seems akin to memory.

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