Tomma Abts

Biography of Tomma Abts

Tomma Abts' paintings feature repetitive multilayered shapes, overpainted again and again in an intuitive search for the final form. The artist always starts on a new work without preconceptions on the final appearance of the canvas and without doing any preliminary sketches. Acrylic and oil are her preferred materials, and since the early 2000s the titles of her pieces are taken from a dictionary of German first names and her canvases always measure 48 cm × 38 cm. These are the only givens in her practice.


Tomma Abts' complex non-figurative compositions do not relate to anything but themselves, they have a certain self-evidence about them, inhabiting a hermetic universe of geometry and abstraction. As the artist notes, "The forms don't stand for anything else, they don’t symbolize anything or describe anything outside of painting. They represent themselves." Similarly, Abts' works on paper also grapple with the process of their creation, seeing the artist figuring out form and color through the medium of printmaking.


Born in Kiel in 1967, Tomma Abts lives and works in London. She has exhibited at prominent institutions worldwide, including the New Museum, New York, the Kunsthalle Basel, and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Her work can be found in public collections such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Tate, London, and the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. After having won the the 2006 Turner Prize, the Tate stated of Abts: "Through her intimate and compelling canvases she builds on and enriches the language of abstract painting."

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