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Among the works that Gallery 98 has lent to the exhibition “The Downtown Decade: NYC 1975-1985” at Glenn Horowitz RARE (17 W. 54th Street, NYC) is Christof Kohlhofer’s Susan B. Anthony shopping bag, originally made in 1981 for the second A More Store. Featuring low-priced artists’ multiples, the A More Stores were organized by Collaborative Projects, Inc. (COLAB), a loosely knit artists’ group and an important catalyst at a time when young artists were searching for relevant subject matter that could reach a broad audience. Kohlhofer’s piece is part of a series of paper bags he made for the A More Store, with stenciled and spray-painted portraits of prominent women.
Within COLAB, the German-born Kohlhofer was a bridge to the vital new German art scene. At the Dusseldorf Academy, he had studied under Joseph Beuys, and collaborated on film and photography projects with Sigmar Polke, a classmate. Kohlhofer joined COLAB soon after coming to New York, and participated in the notorious “Real Estate Show” (1980), which took place in an illegally squatted building. He was influential in arranging the highly publicized visit of Beuys (then in NY for an exhibition) to the demonstration that followed the Show’s police-mandated closing.
In addition to his involvement with COLAB, Kohlhofer can also be credited as the first art director of the East Village Eye (1979–89), an independent publication that shared COLAB’s politicized, DIY ethos. One of the early features of the Eye were artist centerfolds, such as Kohlhofer’s provocative image of the Pope and the Statue of Liberty, a commentary on Pope John Paul II’s 1979 visit to America.