Research point – Rebecca Horn’s drawing machines

I think ‘Pencil Mask, 1972’ was her first drawing machine. It looks like a bondage mask and I imagine is very uncomfortable to use. By having to use her head to make drawings, the ability to properly see what you are drawing has been taken away and so an element of unpredictability introduced. I’ve not seen the resulting images, so can’t comment on what the feel of the drawings were.

A later work which is pretty much impossible to find anything out about online is ‘The Little Painting School Performs a Waterfall, 1988’ (, n.d.). For some reason the details of this are no longer on the main site and have to be accessed through a website archive site) and this is the only reference I can find online regarding this work. This article says that in this work she “mimic[s] the human act of painting” (, 2012) and that she herself says “The machine is a substitute for eternal life, because it lasts forever.”–Rebecca Horn, 1993 (, 2012). I’m not sure I agree with either of these statements, to me it seems clear that this is a machine painting which incorporates elements of randomness and as to her statement about the piece, nothing lasts forever. Despite disagreeing with her on these points, I think this is a strong piece which invites you to contemplate the endless cycle of the painting.

From the limited sources I have found, it appears that Horn focusses on the random marks made by machines. In my own work I would like to introduce this element of randomness, but combine it with controlled drawing also as I enjoy the contrast between the two elements.

References: (2012). The Little Painting School Performs a Waterfall | Rebecca Horn | Walk…. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].

Tate. (2004). ‘Pencil Mask’, Rebecca Horn, 1972 | Tate. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018]. (n.d.). The Little Painting School Performs a Waterfall. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].

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