Chris Reinecke

° 1936

Born in Potsdam (DE), lives in Düsseldorf (DE).

‘I'm an Indian, a Vietnamese, a German and Chris Reinecke’

In 1961, Chris Reinecke (°1936, Potsdam) graduated from the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Afterwards she went to the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf where she continued her studies until 1965 in the studio of Gerhard Hoehme; where Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter and Franz Erhard Walther were also in training.

Meanwhile, she was exhibiting increasingly ephemeral drawings. A few years later, she started working with yarn and knitting wool. Through her playful use of trivial household materials she began to tamper with prevailing moral codes in both the field of gender and the relationship between art and the public.

Her Kaugummibilder (1967), for example, invited the visitor to stick their chewing gum on stencils depicting landscapes. In Umgebungskleider (1967), Reinecke put people in transparent plastic clothing on which the names of the things that the viewer saw were written, such as stones, walls, buildings, etc. And also with Klima-Tisch (1967), she wanted to initiate collective learning processes, hoping to change people's minds or at least spark the will to change. The user of the table was able to simulate different climates through colored light, a fan, a toaster and room spray.

Phenomenology, the positioning of people and things, runs like a thread through Reinecke's oeuvre and is closely aligned with her critical questioning of the position of the artist and art in society. Even before Beuys claimed the idea that everyone can be an artist, Reinecke formulated in her Überlegungen zu meinen Machwerken [Reflections on My Concoctions] (1967) that everyone can become an artist with a personal autonomous perspective. For her, art was the way to political emancipation.

In the late 1960s, Joseph Beuys founded the German Student Party. In combination with the Parisian student protests, it incited the revolts in Düsseldorf and other places. Through her then-husband, Jörg Immendorff, she met Joseph Beuys. During this tumultuous period, Reinecke founded the LIDL Action Room, together with Immendorff, Hans-Jürgen Bulkowski and Wolfgang Feelisch. This neodadaist action group fought against what it considered to be the elitist mentality of the art academy.

In the summer of 1969, LIDL-sport settled in Antwerp, invited by the Fluxus-minded art space A379089, where they organised a football match and a cycling race from Antwerp to Broodthaers’ Musée d 'Art Moderne, Département des Aigles.

During a museum visit in the early 1970s, Reinecke was suspected of wanting to set the building on fire. As usual, she carried cod liver oil, a vitamin supplement, and they thought it was petrol! After the attacks by the left-wing extremist terrorist group Rote Armee Fraktion, there was distrust of engaged art. To bring the hypersensitivity to a head, she decided to set loose a burning toy mouse at an exhibition by André Masson in a museum in Düsseldorf. 

Reinecke became disillusioned. Art was powerless against the political reality. She retired from the art world. Together with Immendorff she founded the Büro Olympia. They transformed LIDL into a grassroots, revolutionary movement.

She gave priority to her political work, for example her call for better social housing in Germany. A local conservative politician declared that people should ‘just build their own houses’. Reinecke responded to his cynicism with a design for mobile residential units. She used wool and a crochet needle to make a cocoon that could be hung between two lampposts. She also designed a one-person cabin on wheels. Unfortunately, her designs were never executed.

In a pamphlet she wrote:

‘It is astonishing that AIR is not yet being traded: this trade would guarantee the most massive moneymaking of all time!!’

Her ideas still resonate to this day and have not lost any of their relevance. Reinecke put little value in the unique aura of a work of art and the existence of artistic genius. ‘People long for something unique,’ she once wrote, ‘like a plaster on the wound of the ordinary. Why do so many people want to distinguish themselves or upgrade themselves with the so-called sublime?’

The M HKA holds four works by Chris Reinecke in its collection: Umgebungskleid (1967), Region nach oben geöffenet (1969), Appetizer (1969) and Schutz gegen Anfassen (1970). In collaboration with the artist, all of her posters (Schaufenster placards) under the heading Mietersolidarität, or "solidarity among tenants," were digitized, translated into Dutch and English, and made accessible on

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