10 JULY TO 27 OCTOBER 2024
Exhibition Annex
Press Preview: 9 July 2024, 11 am

Modernism is unimaginable without the contribution of women artists. Not only well-known women painters and sculptors such as Louise Breslau, Ottilie W. Roederstein, and Marg Moll, but also many others successfully established themselves in the art world during the period around 1900—Erna Auerbach, Eugenie Bandell, Mathilde Battenberg, Marie Bertuch, Ida Gerhardi, Dora Hitz, Annie Stebler-Hopf, Elizabeth Nourse, and Louise Schmidt, to name just a few. In Paris and Frankfurt alike, they built international networks and supported one another. As influential teachers and art agents, some of them also shaped the history of the Städel Museum and Städelschule. It is time to dedicate a major exhibition to these women for the first time ever, and to discover them anew. From 10 July to 27 October 2024, the Städel Museum presents some 80 paintings and sculptures by altogether 26 women artists. Among them are significant artworks from renowned US and European museums and numerous works from private collections, which are exhibited for the first time. Previously unpublished archival materials accompany the works. Photographs and letters tell of international studio collectives, the strategic importance of professional artist associations, and successes, but also of continual efforts to gain recognition.

The exhibition features women artists who, with great independence and professionalism, asserted themselves in an art world dominated by male “artist geniuses”. From the perspective of their networks, a complex picture of women artists’ training and working circumstances in the modernist era emerges—from the struggles of the pioneers in 1880s Paris to the first female sculptors at the Städelschule (Städel art school) around 1900 to the self-determined young generation of women artists in the New Frankfurt of the 1920s and ’30s. Widely different stylistically, the works testify to the diversity of women’s artistic approaches, while also mirroring the radical social and aesthetic upheavals of the time. In their art the women painters and sculptors undertook critical investigations of their own existence as artists in a male-dominated environment. They self-confidently presented themselves in the circles of their female friends and companions and called traditional gender roles into question. By depicting the nude body, they also claimed their right to a motif complex previously reserved for men. In the process, they not only availed themselves of painting and drawing but also increasingly entered the territory of sculpture, which on account of its technical and material requirements and the physical strain it involved was considered the “most masculine” artistic medium.

Städel Museum director Philipp Demandt on the exhibition: “Käthe Kollwitz, Lotte Laserstein, Ottilie Roederstein: In recent years the Städel Museum has devoted major exhibitions to successful women artists. This summer we are presenting the Städel / Women to our public—26 modern women painters and sculptors in a single show. As the result of an extensive research project on the history of our institution and its collection, the Städel Museum has succeeded in reconstructing remarkable women artists’ biographies and locating lost works. We are thus closing gaps in the research while in turn opening doors for further study. This exhibition will fundamentally change our understanding of the situation of women artists around the turn of the last century and their influence on the development of modern art. I am deeply indebted to our lenders and sponsors, who once again have shown how essential their dedication is to the core aspects of our museum work.”

The exhibition curators Alexander Eiling, Eva-Maria Höllerer, and Aude-Line Schamschula: “Our exhibition concentrates on the artistic activities of women painters and sculptors between 1880 and the 1930s. We devote ourselves to three generations of women artists as well as the widely diverse interrelationships between the Frankfurt art world and the French art capital. Following a prologue exploring the circle of women artists around Ottilie Roederstein in Paris, the focus turns to the training situation for women at the Städel art school and Frankfurt’s new School of Arts and Crafts in the 1920s. We introduce these artists along with their individual achievements and highlight the widely branching networks with which they supported and encouraged one another. It is an exhibition about the self-empowerment of women artists who were no exception in their day.”

Curators, Städel Museum: Dr Alexander Eiling (Head of Modern Art), Eva-Maria Höllerer (Research Associate, Modern Art), Aude-Line Schamschula (Research Associate, Modern Art)
Historical Archive: Dr Iris Schmeisser (Head of Provenance Research and Archives), Alexandra Reißer (Digital Culture Project Manager), Ulrike Fladerer (database management / Digital Collection), Gabi Schulte-Lünzum (Deputy Head of the Digital Collection)

Supported by: Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain gGmbH, Damengesellschaft of the Städelscher Museums-Vereins e. V., Dr. Marschner Stiftung, Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung, CATRICE

Media Partner: FAZ
Cultural partner: hr2-kultur

The detailed press information can be found here.

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