Rebecca Horn

Photography: Mechanical Body Fan, 1972-1974. Courtesy of Rebecca Horn / VG Bild Kunst / VISDA

The German conceptual artist Rebecca Horn has spent a half-century using fans, feathers and curious masks to extend the human body.

  • Words Cody Delistraty

In 1964, while living in Barcelona and staying in a hotel where the rooms were rented by the hour, Rebecca Horn began her artistic career. She was 20 and had just enrolled in the Hamburg Academy of Fine Arts but had been forced to drop out: Over the next few years, she would become increasingly and inexplicably physically weak. After her parents both died, she started to feel isolated as well. By 1967, says Alexandra Müller, a curator at the Centre Pompidou-Metz, which recently mounted an exhibition of Horn’s work, Horn had certainly contracted lung poisoning from the toxic fumes she’d been breathing while sculpting polyester resins without a mask. She was committed to a year in a sanatorium to recover—an “unbearable” experience for her, Müller says.

The body—its limitatio...

ISSUE 52

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