Rosemarie Koczÿ

(1939–2007)

Rosemarie Koczÿ

The eldest child of Martha Wüsthoff and Karl Koczÿ, Rosemarie Inge Koczÿ was born March 5, 1939 in Recklinghausen, Germany. In 1959 she moved to Geneva, Switzerland and two years later was accepted into the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs. She received her diploma with distinction four years later. In 1976 she continued her studies, in sculpture, at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Her first marriage (which brought her Swiss citizenship) ended in divorce. She married composer Louis Pelosi, whom she had met while in residence at the MacDowell Colony, in 1984. In 1989 she became an American citizen. She was subsequently represented by the Phyllis Kind Gallery in New York City.

Koczÿ created a community art school outside of Geneva in the 1970s and in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, where she taught privately from 1987 until 2004. After 1995 she gave free lessons to elderly and disabled residents of Maple House in Ossining, where she supplied materials, arranged shows and acquisitions (many by her and her husband). The couple also hosted annual art, poetry and music gatherings in their home for many years. She died December 12, 2007.

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Concentrating upon tapestry upon her graduation in 1965, Koczÿ mounted two solo museum exhibitions in Geneva (1970 and 1979); she produced more than seventy fiber works in fifteen years, many of monumental proportions. During this time she also met Peggy Guggenheim, who commissioned a tapestry from her and introduced her to Thomas Messer, then director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In the mid 1970s she began to create works addressing oppression and the human condition. In 1980, while at the MacDowell Colony she initiated the now celebrated series of drawings she later identified as bearing witness to the Holocaust. In addition to paintings, wood sculptures and mixed media works, she had created more than 12,000 of these pen-and-ink drawings by the time of her death.

Rosemarie Koczÿ was the first female recipient of the Francis Greenburger Award, chosen and presented by Thomas Messer at the Guggenheim in 1986. In addition to many private collections, her work is housed in such institutions as the Guggenheim (both in New York and Venice), the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Queensborough Community College Art Gallery of the City University of New York (which in 2013-14 ran an exhibition of over 100 works, curated by Marion M. Callis), Cabinet des Estampes in Geneva, the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne (where in 1985 she inaugurated Jean Dubuffet’s Neuve Invention Annex), Kunsthalle Recklinghausen (which mounted a museum-wide exhibition in 2017), Museum im Lagerhaus in St. Gallen, Museum Charlotte Zander in Bönnigheim (Germany), Musée de la Création Franche in Bègles (France), Museum Dr. Guislain in Gent (Belgium, which houses the Collection de Stadshof), Galerie Miyawaki in Kyoto, Yad Vashem (the Israeli Holocaust Museum) in Jerusalem, the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Museum in Queens, the Illinois Holocaust Museum, Gedenstätte Buchenwald and the Hungarian Jewish Museum.

The QCC Art Gallery/CUNY has published the three-volume English translation (by her husband) of Rosemarie Koczÿ’s memoirs entitled "I Weave You A Shroud"" and the first in-depth study of her art, by Marion M. Callis, with the title "Rosemarie Koczÿ, Art As Witness."

For more information on Rosemarie Koczÿ, visit http://www.rosemariekoczartist1939-2007.com.

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