Sabine Moritz is an artist living and working in Cologne, Germany. She was born in 1969 in Quedlinburg within the Soviet-controlled German Democratic Republic (GDR). In 1973, following the laboratory accident of her father, she, her older twin brothers and her mother moved to Lobeda, a suburb of Jena (GDR). The Neulobeda district, where the family lived, was built over a period of twenty years beginning in 1966. This densely populated area, characterised by high-rise concrete buildings and modernist urban planning, was to have a profound effect on the young Moritz, which would later manifest itself in her work. In 1981, the Moritz family moved again to the nearby city of Jena, where they stayed until gaining permission to emigrate to West Germany in 1985.
The family soon settled in Darmstadt where Moritz finished school. She was keen to study art and shortly after, in 1989, took up the offer of a place at the Offenbach University of Art and Design. Here, whilst studying with Manfred Stumpf, among others, she began drawing her childhood memories of Lobeda, which were characterised by a gentle sense of detachment and melancholia matched by an unrelenting formal curiosity into qualities such as line, shape, form, perspective and space. In 1991 she switched from Offenbach to the Düsseldorf Art Academy into the class of Markus Lüpertz. After a year she opted to enter the class of Gerhard Richter.1 In moving class, she became the last ever pupil to sign up with Richter as he prepared to relinquish his formal teaching commitments.2 Moritz continued to make drawings of Lobeda during her time in Richter’s classes, and the body of work – comprising over one hundred pencil drawings – was complete towards the end of 1994. That same year, Moritz began to appear in photographs used as sources for Richter’s paintings. They married the following year, and have since had three children together.
Lobeda continued as a theme in Moritz’s work after the initial body of pencil drawings, resulting in a second substantial body of works on paper in media including coloured pencil, charcoal, watercolour and oil, as well as in paintings executed in oil and acrylic on canvas. This second body was produced between 1992 and 1994. Themes of architecture, urban planning, public and private space, childhood and her time in Lobeda and Jena have continued to feature in her work, and have more recently been joined by a number of other significant subjects in her work. One prominent strand of her practice revolves around themes of war and the landscape, whereby she often depicts military vehicles – whether helicopters, armoured vehicles or warships – in action on land, sea and by air. A selection of these works was exhibited in 2006 in a solo exhibition with accompanying publication at Andrew Mummery Gallery in London, and others from this ongoing body of work have been exhibited in regular exhibitions since 2005 with Felix Ringel Galerie, Düsseldorf. While these works often depict scenes of intense action and drama, the consistently muted palette and confrontation between machinery and bleak contexts contribute to a sense of futility and anomie.
A third important strand of Moritz’s practice revolves around still life. With regular subjects including asters, orchids, lilies and roses, she approaches these charcoal, pastel and oil pastel drawings as studies, as exercises in observation and representation.3 An anthology of her drawings of roses was published in 2010, and a year later, along with an exhibition at Golden Square Gallery in Soho, London, was followed by the publication of a collection of her drawings of lilies, interlaced with drawings of small-scale decorative objects such as statuettes and figurines from a variety of civilisations past and present.4 2010 also saw the publication of Lobeda, which brought together the first body of her drawings from the early 1990s.5 An exhibition of these works was held at the Kunsthaus sans titre in Potsdam in 2011. Following the success of the Lobeda publication, in 2011 a follow-up publication was produced entitled JENA Düsseldorf, featuring the second body of work relating to her time in the GDR and her arrival in West Germany.6 In 2012, in addition to a second solo exhibition in Soho, London, Moritz was one of five artists shortlisted for the Faber-Castell Drawing Award and featured in the accompanying exhibition at the Neues Museum – The State Museum for Art and Design, Nuremberg.7 In spring 2013 Moritz was invited to have her first solo exhibition with Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris, entitled Limbo 2013.
Written by Matthew Price.
1 Hans Ulrich Obrist, Sabine Moritz. Jena Düsseldorf. Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, 2011, p.20.
2 Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter, Maler. Dumont, Cologne, 2002, p.360.
3 Matt Price, Sabine Moritz. Lilies and Objects, Heni Publishing, 2011, p.4 (preface).
4 Both books were published by Heni Publishing, London: Sabine Moritz, Roses (2010); Lilies and Objects (2011).
5 The publication of Sabine Moritz. Lobeda resulted from a studio visit in 2009 by the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, who invited the publisher Walther König to see the work. It was published as Lobeda by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, in 2010.
6 Sabine Moritz. JENA Düsseldorf, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, 2011.
7 The other nominees were Sevda Chkoutova, Paulina Olowska, Jorinde Voigt and the winner, Trisha Donnelly.