Katharina Grosse:
Third Man Begins Digging Through Her Pockets

Organized by David Norr, Chief Curator

October 8, 2012September 1, 2013

Katharina Grosse’s vibrant, massively scaled paintings and installations invite viewers to physically encounter color. Using the expanded platform of architecture, Grosse takes on ceilings, walls, and floors as “canvases,” erasing their boundaries with sprayed acrylic paint. Abandoning the flat materials and frontal address typically associated with painting, her works engage viewers through movement and shifting dimensional relationships.

Grosse's project at MOCA Cleveland, Third Man Begins Digging Through Her Pockets (2012), layers the dynamic space inside of the building's three-story atrium with blasts of orange, purple, and yellow. Cloaked in paint, the planar surfaces of the walls and monumental stair alternately advance and recede, oscillating between real and illusionary space. Grosse’s expansive work can be seen from the ground floor, second and third floor landings, and from outside the building at night. The title of the work nods to the language of stage direction, emphasizing the painting’s theatrical qualities. Grosse’s works are highly performative; as viewers move through them, tracing the artist’s gestures, their own actions are in turn framed by the color-saturated backdrop. 

Grosse’s commission is a special project for the inaugural exhibition at MOCA Cleveland’s new building,  Inside Out and From the Ground Up, and she is the first artist to be featured in the Museum’s new annual Atrium Project series. Each year, MOCA Cleveland will work with a contemporary artist to create an installation that utilizes the unique structure and visibility of the space. 

Katharina Grosse (1961, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany) lives and works in Berlin. Solo exhibitions of her works have been held at Mass MOCA, North Adams; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and Palais de Tokyo, Paris. She has also participated in international group shows including the 11th Biennale of Sydney, and the 25th São Paulo Biennial.

Click to download a PDF of the exhibition brochure.


The Atrium Project is generously funded by the Rosalie and Morton Cohen family

Additional funding from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation