Cosima von Bonin was born in 1962 in Mombasa, Kenya. She came of age in Cologne during the 1990s where she was part of the booming art scene, and she still lives and works in the city. Von Bonin is well-known for her sculptures and installations created from fabric and readymades that use comedy and pop culture to question social constructions and relations.
In 2022, her installation on the façade of the Giardini’s Central Pavilion welcomed visitors to the Cecilia Alemani-organized exhibition The Milk of Dreams at the 59th Venice Biennale. She has also participated in Skulptur Projekte Münster (2017), Glasgow International (2016), and Documenta (2007). One-person exhibitions have taken place at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; CCS Bard, Annandale-on-Hudson; Oakville Galleries, Ontario, Canada; SculptureCenter, Long Island City, New York; mumok - Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna; Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva; Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; and the Kunstverein Hamburg among others. Her work is included in including the de la Cruz Collection, Miami; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; mumok - Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam among others.
Since 2000, and right up through her major Chelsea shows at FPG in 2003 and 2006 and at Documenta 12, von Bonin’s large- scale “Lappen” – painting-like compositions of readymade textiles hand-stitched with figures and texts – have been her signature product. These works recall both Sigmar Polke’s famous use of mass-produced textiles as supports for paintings and Mike Kelley’s hand-crafted banners, not to mention Sergej Jensens’s recent “Paintings” made of found fabrics. In von Bonin’s case, the materials she chooses often come precharged with contemporary lifestyle signifiers, either because the prints are identifiable as Laura Ashley or Marks & Spencer, or because here and there she appropriates an Yves Saint Laurent shopping bag or adds designer Martin Margiela’s signature X stitch to a composition. At once folksy and luxurious, DIY and gallery-friendly, von Bonin’s expensive rags extend a territory where art and fashion immediately abandon their difference.
John Kelsey, “Roger and Out, The Mollusk of Reference,” Artforum, 2007
1962 Born in Mombasa, Kenya
1993 Exhibits in the group exhibition Parallax View at MoMA PS1 alongside Michael Krebber, Mark Dion, David Robbins, Andrea Fraser, Heimo Zobernig, Susan Grayson, and Jutta Koether
1995 Martin Kippenberger invites von Bonin to stage a performance at his Museum of Modern Art Syros in Greece
2003 Inaugural exhibition with Petzel Gallery
2007 Von Bonin’ first major US exhibition opens at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Participates in documenta 12
2010 Debuts new commission The Idlers Playground at Sculpture International Rotterdam
Cosima von Bonin: The Fatigue Empire opens at Kunsthaus Bregenz
2011 Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis hosts von Bonin’s exhibition Character Appropriation
2014 Exhibits over 100 works in one of her largest exhibitions to date, HIPPIES USE SIDE DOOR. THE YEAR 2014 HAS LOST THE PLOT, at Mumok in Vienna
2016-17 Exhibits Who’s Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea at Glasgow International; SculptureCenter, Long Island City, New York; and Oakville Galleries, Canada
2018 Von Bonin’s eighth show at Petzel WHAT IF IT BARKS? Featuring Authority Purée opens
2019 Magasin III Jaffa in Tel Aviv presents her exhibition Ocean and Caffeine
The Italian, Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
WHAT IF IT BARKS? Featuring Authority Purée, 2018, Petzel Gallery, New York
Who’s Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea?, 2016, Glasgow International
HIPPIES USE SIDE DOOR. THE YEAR 2014 HAS LOST THE PLOT, 2014, Mumok, Vienna
Cosima von Bonin’s, FAR NIENTE FOR WITTE DE WITH’S SLOTH SECTION Loop #1 of the Lazy Susan Series / A Rotating Exhibition, 2010, Witte de With, Rotterdam
Roger and Out, 2007, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
The Fatigue Empire, 2010, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria