Tobias Rehberger


Tobias Rehberger: Som-Tam-Poo, 2004

-> further Works in the Exhibition


Raimar Stange

Thoughts on Tobias Rehberger’s artistic ”work”

When surveying the extremely multifaceted oeuvre of Tobias Rehberger, the view of the many vases, various cars, functioning lamps, flickering TV sets, antique-looking wooden sculptures, pop  memorabilia, large-format panel paintings and snowy trees… raises the obvious question: Has all this really been done by just one artist? Moreover, the art appears in so many different media — as film and drawing, as sculpture and installation, as “design” and “fashion”, as a light show. The Landesbank Baden-Württemberg collection illustrates this diversity; with its over forty “Rehbergers”, the collection not only owns an unusual amount of work by the artist, but also some of his key works, such as the early Skulptur (Sculpture) (1992), the working group One (1995), and the first “vase portrait” by Rehberger, which we will discuss later. In addition, this art takes place both indoor and outdoors; in art’s “white cube” just as in urban everyday life. Does this mean that Tobias Rehberger’s output to date is in keeping with the seemingly post-modern maxim of “reinventing oneself each day”? Or, does raising the question of an artist’s coherent “style” merely follow one’s own interpretational desire for a congruously developing and “genial” artistic personality, aesthetic trademark included? With these misgivings, if one then studies and reads the catalog Tobias Rehberger 1993–2008 [1] designed like a retrospective, then the feeling of uneasiness increases even more because of the sheer quantity of different subjects and approaches assembled there. At any rate, the two authors featured in the catalog Tobias Rehberger 1993–2008 believe they have found a TR.ademark for Rehberger’s work. Lars Bang Larsen formulates this succinctly as the interactive moment in the lives of human and object, [2] and for Daniel Birnbaum this expresses itself in the hybrid-like character of the “bastard,” which characterizes the “works” by this artist. [3] And Tobias Rehberger himself, who is interviewed in the catalog, surprisingly hints at a consistent “corporate identity” in his works; namely, when connecting with the concept of the “Romantic geniuses” and their requirement of authenticity he states: “I interrogate permanently this point of view.” [4]

Therefore, it is rather tantalizing to analyze a few selected works from the Landesbank Baden-Württemberg collection to both appraise them critically and to pursue my own desire for a “common denominator” in the art of Tobias Rehberger (hereafter referred to as TR.).

First, the installation, No need to fight about the channel. Together, lean back (1996), from the project Fragments of their pleasant spaces (in my fashionable version) (1997), will be considered in order to establish its relation to the previously mentioned work One and the project Som-Tam-Poo (2004). I have always interpreted this installation, which consists of stylish yellow seating furniture facing two TV sets in white spherical casings, as a hedonistic setting in which it comes to an interaction between objects — the comfortable seating furniture and the TV sets offering entertainment — and between the people who use them, like the interaction between the artist and his friends. [...]

[1] Uta Grosenick, ed., Tobias Rehberger 1993–2008, exhib. cat., Stedelijk Museum in  Amsterdam, and Museum Ludwig in Cologne, DuMont, Cologne, 2008.
[2] Lars Bang Larsen, "The Life and Death of Things. A gothic reading of a ‘retrospective’ by Tobias Rehberger”, in: Grosenick 2008, p. 52ff.
[3] Daniel Birnbaum, “Chair, Film, Lamp: Rehberger's Bastards“, in: Grosenick 2008, p. 66ff.
[4] Leontine Coelewij, “the chicken-and-egg-no-problem wall-painting. Interview Tobias Rehberger”, in: Grosenick 2008, p. 18.ibid., p. 14. Emphasis in italics added

Catalog excerpt "Extended. Sammlung Landesbank Baden-Württemberg"
Editors: Lutz Casper, Gregor Jansen, published by Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg, 2009


Works in the Exhibition

Tobias Rehberger
One, 1995/1998

Mixed media and flowers, 14 parts
Maße variabel

Tobias Rehberger
Siena, 1997/2000

Chairs of diverse materials base: wood and plastic

Tobias Rehberger
84 Jahre, 2001

84 Years
Video beamer, iBook, programm CD, and activ boxes
Maße variabel

Tobias Rehberger
Maserati Version J, 2001/2003

Metal, car lacquer, and Maserati
140 x 200 x 500 cm

Tobias Rehberger
Som-Tam-Poo, 2004

Handmade copy of the Mercedes Benz prototype C111
ca. 150 x 200 x 450 cm


Tobias Rehberger
Handgefertigte Kopie des Mercedes Benz Prototyp C111
ca. 150 x 200 x 450 cm
© Tobias Rehberger
Foto: Archiv Sammlung Landesbank Baden-Württemberg