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Rebecca Horn | Kiss of the Rhinoceros (1989)

The Milk of Dreams - The 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia

Saturday, April 23 - Sunday, November 27, 2022


Rebecca Horn | Kiss of the Rhinoceros
Kiss of the Rhinoceros, 1989
Steel construction, aluminum, motors, electric devices
Dimensions: 153 1/2 x 212 1/2 x 19 3/16 inches (390 x 540 x 60 cm)
Photography: Rebecca Horn Workshop © Rebecca Horn VG Bild Kunst


Rebecca Horn conceived the now iconic sculpture The Kiss of Rhinoceros in 1989 to be included in the groundbreaking exhibition Les Magiciens de la Terre curated by Jean Hubert Martin, Director of the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, in Paris. The exhibition was introduced as the first truly international exhibition, bringing together artists from all over the world. To this day, the impact of this exhibition continues to be enormously influential. The sculpture The Kiss of the Rhinoceros exemplifies Horn’s oeuvre and symbolic world inhabited with objects, often mechanized, that are liberated from their defined materiality and transposed into ever-changing metaphors touching on mythical, historical, literary and spiritual imagery. Its inclusion in the exhibition The Milk of Dreams curated by Cecilia Alemani for the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia could not be more appropriate. Alemani stated The Milk of Dreams takes its title from a book by Leonora Carrington (1917–2011) in which the Surrealist artist describes a magical world where life is constantly re-envisioned through the prism of the imagination. It is a world where everyone can change, be transformed, become something or someone else. The exhibition The Milk of Dreams takes Leonora Carrington’s otherworldly creatures, along with other figures of transformation, as companions on an imaginary journey through the metamorphoses of bodies and definitions of the human. The Kiss of the Rhinoceros is Horn’s invitation to go on this journey.  


The artist

Les Magiciens de la Terre. Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France, May 18 - August 14, 1989.
Rebecca Horn, The Inferno Paradiso Switch. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA, June 25 - October 1, 1993.
Rebecca Horn, The Glance of Infinity. Kästner Gesellschaft, Hannover, Germany, May 12 - July 72, 1997. 
Rebecca Horn. Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart, Germany, 1999/2000
Rebecca Horn. Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan, October 31, 2009 - February 14, 2010.
Rebecca Horn, Body Fantasies. Tinguely Museum, Basel, Switzerland, June 5 - September 22, 2019.
The Milk of Dreams, The 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy, April 23 - November 27, 2022.

Les Magiciens de la Terre, Paris, France: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1989. p. 148 (color - preparatory drawing).
Cooke, Lynne. Rebecca Horn, Bath Arts Festival, England: Artsite Gallery, 1989. p. 51 (color illustration).
Gianelli, Ida. Rebecca Horn, Los Angeles, California: The Museum of Contemporary Art, 1990. p. 28 (black and white illustration).
Rebecca Horn, The Inferno Paradiso Switch, New York: Guggenheim Museum, 1993. p. 71-74 (color illustration). 
Haenlein, Carl. Rebecca Horn: The Glance of Infinity. Zurich, Switzerland: Scalo Verlag, 1997. p 78; 79 (color Illustration; color - detail). 
Partridge, Matthew, translator. Rebecca Horn. Stuttgart, Germany: Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, 2000. p 94-96 (color illustration).
Rebecca Horn, Drawings, Sculptures, Installations, Films -1964-2006, Berlin, Germany: Martin Gropius Bau, 2007. p. 131 (black and white - detail).
Rebecca Horn: Rebellion in Silence, Dialogue between Raven and Whale. Tokyo, Japan: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2009. p 85 (color illustration).
Rebecca Horn, Hauchkoerper als Lebenszyklus, Duisburg, Germany: Lehmbruk Museum, 2017. p.40 (color - detail).
Rebecca Horn, Body Fantasies, Basel, Switzerland: Tinguely Museum, 2019. p. 27 (color - detail). 


“In all her work, Rebecca Horn consistently acknowledges the primacy of experience over symbolism, her goal being to articulate and demonstrate that art must be grasped not only in relation to its historical and formal structures but also from the viewpoint of the subject. Operating through signs and symbols, the circular interdependence between the self and the world is consistently revealed."

- Germano Celant, The Divine Comedy of Rebecca Horn, Rebecca Horn: The Inferno Paradiso Switch (Catalogue), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1993


Rebecca Horn, Kiss of the Rhinoceros (1989), Detail.

Rebecca Horn, Kiss of the Rhinoceros (1989), Detail.

"Electricity is another means employed by Rebecca Horn to visualise circulating movement, tension, discharges and energy flows, such as in the iconic 'Kiss of the Rhinoceros' (1989)."

-Sandra Beate Reimann, The Moved Cosmos of Rebecca Horn, Rebecca Horn: Body Fantasies (Catalogue), Museum Tinguely, 2019

The Kiss of the Rhinoceros (1989)
Installation - Les Magiciens de la Terre
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1989.

The Kiss of the Rhinoceros (1989)
Installation - Les Magiciens de la Terre
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1989.

"...whereas Duchamp saw the visual as but a vehicle to subtle speculation that was cerebral and philosophical in character, Horn's means are synaesthetic, involving a heightened sensory and intuitive apprehension, and a greater stress on the consuming and violating powers of the erotic: physical energy becomes a metaphor for psychic energy. The electric charge that literally attends the meeting of the two elements in Kiss of the Rhinoceros...attests to this. The interchange between the human and animal, especially the use of zoomorphic surrogates, is symptomatic of the fact that the world in Horn's vision is not separable into discrete realms, and that knowledge leads to an active reabsorption in the organic as much as the mineral world."

- Lynne Cooke, Missing Full Moon (Catalogue), Artsite Gallery, Bath International Festival, 1989

Rebecca Horn, 2022. Photography: Karin Weyrich.

Rebecca Horn, 2022. Photography: Karin Weyrich.

For more than forty years Rebecca Horn has examined the relationship between the individual and the collective experience and the way that such relationships condition our culture. In countless personal exhibitions, but also in the great survey exhibitions of the period, she has created arresting, memorable installations that engage physical and psychological space.

- Sir Nicholas Serota, Memory and Energy Beneath a Full Moon, The Moontower Foundation (Catalogue), 2013