|Born||March 4, 1964|
Reken, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Thomas Rentmeister (born March 4, 1964 in Reken, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany) is a German artist. He currently lives in Berlin and teaches at the Braunschweig University of Art (Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig).
Rentmeister studied from 1987 to 1993 at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf where he was taught by Günther Uecker and Alfonso Hüppi. In 1999 he became a lecturer at the Kunsthochschule Kassel. He taught at the Berlin University of the Arts from 2002 to 2004 and at the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee from 2005–2006. He became a lecturer at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig in 2007 and was promoted to professor in 2009.
Rentmeister has become known to a larger audience with his high-gloss polyester sculptures which look like oversized blobs or comic figures.Beginning in 1999, he has worked repeatedly with Nutella Spread and Penaten Baby Cream. He adopts “a set of industrially mass-produced domestic materials as units or building blocks, from sugar cubes and cotton tips to Tempo tissues, electrical sockets and whole refrigerators.” He then makes sculptures using these materials.
“His art is never a hermetic, self-contained work, an aesthetic monad; the identity of the non-artistic materials always remains recognizable.”The irreverence with which Rentmeister combines art and life is the most extraordinary aspect of his work.
Rentmeister references Minimalism but freshens up its “severe stylistic vocabulary with a healthy dash of Post Pop and Dadaist nonconformity.”Ursula Panhans-Bühler has called this “impure Minimalism.”
Exhibition catalogues and features emphasize Rentmeister’s humor. “His tools are humor and his approach is that of the parodist.”He knows how to align density in form and content with humor. But Rentmeister is more than a senior ironist. Thomas Rentmeister in an interview with Deutschlandfunk: “My work is saturated with irony; but this is not the only motivation that drives me. If you omitted the irony, my oeuvre would still work.”
Rentmeister and his work steers clear of one-dimensional definitions. “Rentmeister’s work oscillates between an emotional ‘will to art’ and a humorous art and institutional critique, between a reference to everyday life and the aspirations of art, whereby the artist carefully avoids taking a clear stand.”
The philosopher Hannes Böhringer writes in his essay “Fridge kaput”: The refrigerator installations draft “an image of an entropic end-stage in art.”
The “motor behind Rentmeister’s work” is the “balancing act between seduction and repulsion, between the aesthetic and the unpleasant.The artist wants to “find the point where the sweet, the beautiful suddenly turns into the disgusting, the repressed and the inappropriate”; according to this, Rentmeister’s whole oeuvre is characterized by a “fully developed paradoxical strategy of ambivalence.” The “theme of transience” also “discreetly but nevertheless unmistakably permeates broad sections of his oeuvre.”
Rentmeister has shown at numerous international galleries and museums. Rentmeister’s work was the subject of the mid-career retrospective Objects. Food. Rooms.
Selected solo exhibitions
Rentmeister's work is in numerous collections including the Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, Remagen, Germany; Kolumba, Cologne, Germany; MARTa Herford, Germany; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Museum Ostwall, Dortmund, Germany; Abteiberg Museum, Mönchengladbach, Germany; Lehmbruck-Museum, Duisburg, Germany
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