Who—or what—is Ree­na Spaul­ings? Since 2004 the name has stood for vari­ous col­lec­tive artis­tic ac­tiv­i­ties. Ini­tial­ly Ree­na Spaul­ings was the ti­tle of a nov­el writ­ten by an undis­closed num­ber of anony­mous au­thors from the cir­cle of the artist col­lec­tive Ber­nadette Cor­po­ra­tion. Around the same time, a com­mer­cial gallery with an ex­hi­bi­tion space in New York was found­ed, which since then has rep­re­sent­ed artists such as Mer­lin Car­pen­ter, Jut­ta Koether, Claire Fon­taine, and Klara Lidén. Al­so in 2004, an artist col­lec­tive was formed that op­er­ates un­der the name of the fic­tio­n­al artist Ree­na Spaul­ings, cre­at­ing col­lec­tive paint­ings that are both re­flec­tive of the sys­tem and self-dep­re­cat­ing.

The ex­hi­bi­tion Her and No is Ree­na Spaul­ings’s first in­sti­tu­tio­n­al col­lab­o­ra­tion with a mu­se­um. The pre­sen­ta­tion fo­cus­es on the col­lec­tive’s artis­tic work. Cre­at­ed es­pe­cial­ly for this ex­hi­bi­tion and in­clud­ing new works, new ver­sions of ex­ist­ing se­ries of works, and ex­ist­ing works that deal with the sta­tus of the artist in so­ci­e­ty in a wider sense, the in­s­tal­la­tion al­so plays with the for­mat of in­sti­tu­tio­n­al mu­se­um ex­hi­bi­tions.

Three free­s­tand­ing, large-scale pan­els made of alu­minum are fea­tured in the ex­hi­bi­tion. The sub­ject de­pict­ed here is an adap­ta­tion of Gus­tave Cour­bet’s fa­mous paint­ing The Meet­ing (Bon­jour, Mon­sieur Cour­bet), in which the pain­ter, dur­ing a hike in the coun­try­side far from the ur­ban cul­tu­r­al scene, runs in­to his pa­tron Al­fred Bruyas. Ree­na Spaul­ings tran­s­pos­es the scene from 1854, in which Cour­bet pre­sent­ed him­self as a self-con­fi­dent out­doors­man, in­to the pre­sent. In do­ing so, she of­fers a tongue-in-cheek anal­y­sis of the pain­ter’s aware­ness of his role back then as well as to­day, si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly point­ing to the del­i­cate bal­ance of de­pen­dence within the art world. In the same spir­it, the four­teen-piece por­trait se­ries Ad­vi­sors, which por­trays fa­mous male and fe­male art con­sul­tants, ex­amines their grow­ing sig­ni­f­i­cance in the art mar­ket. Al­though since the be­gin­n­ing of mod­er­nism artists no longer de­pend on pa­trons for com­mis­sion­s—the genre of por­trai­ture can to­day be un­der­s­tood as a sym­bol of this kind of re­la­tion­ship—they are still in­flu­enced by clear­ly dis­cern­able mar­ket and pow­er mech­anisms that be­come ap­par­ent in the seem­ing­ly autono­mous de­ci­sion to paint the Ad­vi­sors se­ries.

In ad­di­tion, new adap­ta­tions of the most im­por­tant se­ries of works by Ree­na Spaul­ings can be seen in the ex­hi­bi­tion. The paint­ing tech­nique ranges from poin­til­lism in the New York and Cologne pic­tures, fol­low­ing Os­kar Kokosch­ka’s View of Cologne from the Mes­se­turm (1956), to paint­ings cre­at­ed by clean­ing robots, which pos­sess a sur­pris­ing vi­tal­i­ty and vivid­ness that at first glance is remi­nis­cent of Wil­li­am Turn­er’s sea pic­tures. In both se­ries the at­tempt at a col­lec­tive paint­ing prac­tice is para­mount, a prac­tice that over­rides the idea of in­di­vi­d­u­al au­thor­ship and artis­tic style.