Rebecca Horn was born in Michelstadt, Germany, one year before the end of World War II. She studied in Hamburg at the Hochscule für Bildende Künste from 1964 to 1970. Until 1971 Horn lived in Hamburg, then briefly in London, before moving to West Berlin in 1973. In Berlin, she taught at the Akademie der Künst.
In 1971 Horn had her first public performance in Kassel, Germany at the Documenta exhibition. Her first one-person exhibition took place at the Galerie Ren Block in West Berlin in 1973. She exhibited in Documenta again in 1986 and received the Arnold Bode Preis. In 1992 she was the first woman to receive the Trgerin des Kaiserrings Goslar. By the 1980’s Horn was working on site-specific installations and making films. In 1993, a mid-career retrospective of Horn’s work took place at the Soloman R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.