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A photograph of a woman lying on her side on a mattress in a concrete room.

Anne Imhof: Sex



Anne Imhof (born 1978, Giessen, Germany) has emerged as one of the most provocative and pioneering voices of her generation. Her work establishes a new paradigm for exhibitions and gives form to a sense of alienation and detachment that increasingly shapes our society.

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Sacha Eusebe in rehearsal for Anne Imhof’s Sex, 2019

Photo by Nadine Fraczkowski. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York

This exhibition, entitled Sex, shows the wide range of attitudes present in Imhof’s practice, opening with three days of live performances and continuing as an installation that includes sculpture, painting, and sound in the weeks that follow. The central sculptural element is a large wooden pier, a structure typically used to gaze at the horizon. Imhof, however, proposes the pier as an architecture that divides the gallery into oppositional zones: above and beneath, top and bottom, light and shade, inside and outside, visible and invisible. In the performance that inaugurates the installation, these binaries expand into male and female, hope and desperation, pain and pleasure, and ultimately, life and death. Sex deals with the fluidity between these seemingly irreconcilable forces, as Imhof and her collaborators continuously shift between them and merge what appears to be incompatible. 

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Mickey Mahar and Josh Johnson in rehearsal for Anne Imhof’s Sex, 2019

Photo by Nadine Fraczkowski. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York

Since 2012, Imhof has worked with a core group of collaborators, in particular Eliza Douglas, whose contributions to Sex have been integral to the conceptual and aesthetic development of the work. Douglas and Billy Bultheel, together with Imhof, have composed an original score that combines classical references with punk, electronic music, and grunge to create dark metal waltzes and eerie arias for a ballroom charged with aggression and desire. Imhof has also developed new choreography that responds to specific conditions of the space and the dynamic between the performers and the audience. A series of new paintings and objects that function as both props and sculptures intensify the atmosphere set in motion by the exhibition’s main architecture: stepping away from the light, into the darkness, in search of another sunrise. 

A recorded audio concert, Concert for Paintings, will play in the gallery at 11:00 a.m.; 1:30 p.m.; 3:30 p.m.; and 4:30 p.m. daily.

Performances are scheduled to take place on:
Thursday, May 30, 3:30–7:00
Friday, May 31, 12:30–4:00
Saturday, June 1, 12:30–4:00

Registration for the performances is not required; viewing is on a first-come, first-served basis.

This exhibition is the second of three chapters in a project commissioned by Tate Modern, London; the Art Institute of Chicago; and Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Turin.


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