Kai Althoff

Biography of Kai Althoff

Kai Althoff is a German visual artist and musician recognized for the diversity of his artistic output. His installations, performances, paintings and collages borrow from a multitude of sources including Germanic folk traditions, medieval and gothic religious imagery and even today’s popular culture. Often rendered in a style evocative of German Expressionism, Kai Althoff’s work borrows from different times and places to address questions of spirituality and sexuality.


Born in 1966 in Cologne, Kai Althoff was part of a generation of artists in the German city who were engaged in multi-disciplinary practices. A lot of his work retains this collaborative approach. At the Berlin Biennale in 2006, he worked with Lutz Braun to create a site-specific installation using abandoned materials. In 2012 Kai Althoff also performed alongside fellow artist Isa Genzken in a 70-minute absurdist comedy home video entitled Kleine Bushaltestelle (Gerüstbau) (Little Bus Stop (Scaffolding)).


Kai Althoff often makes use of found materials, combing them with his original paintings, sculptures and drawings to create an imaginary environment. His works range from sci-fi films to piles of rubbish, and are conducted in a range of styles but always seek to immerse the viewer in the world they create. They force the spectator to inhabit these imaginary worlds as an allegory for human experience and emotion.


Kai Althoff has had a number of solo exhibitions worldwide, including at the MoMA, New York, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Kunsthalle Zürich, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston,  the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Simultanhalle, Cologne. The artist has also taken part in the Venice Biennale (in 1993) and the Whitney Biennial (2012). Kai Althoff currently lives and works between his native Cologne and New York City.

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