Female Sensibility: Feminist Avant-Garde from the VERBUND COLLECTION in the Lentos Art Museum

9/23/2021

The exhibition "Female Sensibility", with over 200 feminist artworks from the 1970s by 82 female artists, explores the construction of the female. It emphasises the pioneering achievements of the so-called "Feminist Avant-Garde". The show, which has already been displayed in Rome, Madrid and London, is this time being expanded in Lentos by a total of 34 international positions from Latin America, North America, Asia as well as Western and Eastern Europe.

The exhibition at the Lentos is dedicated to an artistic movement that has thus far received little attention in art history. For the first time in the history of art, these artists created a new 'image of the woman' from a female perspective in various countries. For this movement, Gabriele Schor, founding director of the VERBUND COLLECTION, coined the term "Feminist Avant-Garde", with the intention that this collective pioneering achievement would be appropriately included in art history.

The Lentos show "Female Sensibility. Feminist Avant-Garde from the VERBUND COLLECTION" lets visitors engage in three new focal points. Afro-American artists are exposed to frequent discrimination pertaining to gender, racism and social position, with the current Black Lives Matter movement highlighting their precarious situation. This intersectional discrimination is impressively expressed in the works of Afro-American female artists. Alongside works by Howardena Pindell and Lorraine O'Grady, works by Elizabeth Catlett can also be seen; she shows how mothers are afraid for their children because of the increasing levels of violence they are exposed to on the streets.

Communist systems propagated the social equality of men and women. Nevertheless, artists like Gabriele Stötzer vehemently represented their feminist art despite years of Stasi checks in the former GDR. Amazingly, although the was separated from western feminist discourse, she created similarly staged photographs to artists from "over there". For example, Stötzer pressed her naked boy against a glass pane or wrapped herself in bandages like a mummy from head to toe in order to express the feeling of being restricted.

Surprisingly, years of research turned up works by 17 Austrian female artists that show a strong feminist leaning in an international comparison and makes clear that there is more than just feminist-orientated art. The public performances of VALIE EXPORT, such as her "Tapp- und Tastkino" (Tap and Touch Cinema) of 1968, were strong and necessary provocations in the sense of "actionist feminism". Less attention was paid to the fact that poetic -performative works were also created at the same time, e.g. by Renate Bertlmann, Linda Christanell, Birgit Jürgenssen, Karin Mack, or Friederike Pezold. Margot Pilz, whose biography was recently published, processes her social criticism from a sociological perspective, while Auguste Kronheim adopts a literary point of view.

 

Against the backdrop of the 1968 student's movement, the civil rights and anti-war movement as well as the "sexual revolution", a second women's movement formed in western countries. Women recognised that their so-called "private" problems are not down to nature, but arise out of social power and dominance relations. They rebelled against institutional discrimination, whereby the man was the head of the family and was alone able to decide, for example, whether the woman could be economically active outside the family, where the children went to school or whether they were allowed to travel abroad. The conviction grew: The personal is political!

The exhibition at the Lentos Museum shows that the female artists dealt with similar topics. Thus, the international show is arranged into five sections: the rebellion against the one-dimensional perception of being only "mother, housewife and spouse", the resulting feeling of "being locked in" and wanting to break out, the rebellion against the "diktat of beauty" and the focus on the female, exploring what "female sexuality" can be, and finally the design of manifold female identities through "role-play". "It is exciting to observe that many female artists did not know one another and yet created similar image strategies," explains Gabriele Schor, curator of the exhibition and head of the VERBUND COLLECTION.

The female artists deliberately turned to new, historically unencumbered media such as photography, film and video, and used performance as a means of artistic expression. It was often their own body that became the material, the code or cipher for the art. With humour and irony, subtlety and provocation, they deconstructed the traditional iconography of the female. "For the Lentos, it is a matter of concern to make revolutionary approaches of female artists known to a wider public and to give weight to the associated political demands," declares Hemma Schmutz, artistic director of the Lentos.

As female artists were not taken seriously due to their gender, they began to organise themselves. The demonstrated in front of museums that did not include any works by female artists in group exhibitions, they wrote manifestos, founded periodicals, collective and galleries. In 1972, Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro founded the feminist exhibition venue Womanhouse in California, and Mary Beth Edelson initiated the first major women's conference for the visual arts in Washington. At the same time, the women's group "Aktion Unabhängiger Frauen" (AUF - Action by Independent Women) was founded in Vienna. In 1975, the international year of the woman, the A.I.R. Gallery was established in New York. In the same year, VALIE EXPORT curated the legendary exhibition "MAGNA. Feminism: Art and Creativity" at the Galerie nächst St. Stephan. The network "International Action Community of Women Artists" (IntAkt) was founded in Vienna in 1977 and still exists today.

Since the show "Woman" (2017) at the mumok in Vienna, which was also implemented in cooperation with the VERBUND COLLECTION, the number of female artists exhibited has almost doubled. The Lentos now offers the possibility to see works by all 82 female artists from Latin America, North America, Asia and Western and Eastern Europe for the first time. In addition to prominent positions, less well-known female artists can also be discovered at the Lentos.

About the VERBUND COLLECTION


The VERBUND COLLECTION was founded in 2004. VERBUND takes social responsibility and promotes projects in social, sporting and cultural areas. In the area of art, the Executive Board decided in favour of actual 'cultural work'. "VERBUND understands its commitment to contemporary art as being a part of its corporate culture," says Michael Strugl, Chairman of the Executive Board of VERBUND. "The claim of SAMMLUNG VERBUND is to discover individual artistic items that were previously hidden, to bring them to light and to leave a mark on our cultural memory."

Facts & Figures

 

Exhibition title

Female Sensibility
Feminist Avant-Garde from the VERBUND COLLECTION
 

Duration of the exhibition

 24.9.2021 – 9.1.2022
 

Press conference

23.09.2021, 10.00 am

Dialogue partners at the press conference

Hemma Schmutz, director of the Lentos Art Museum Linz
Gabriele Schor, curator & head of the VERBUND COLLECTION, Vienna
Doris Lang-Mayerhofer, city councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Creative Economy of the City of Linz

Women artists present:
Veronika Dreier (*1954, AT)
Auguste Kronheim (*1937, AT)
Brigitte Lang (*1953, AT)
Karin Mack (*1940, AT)
Anita Münz (*1957, CH/AT)
Margot Pilz (*1936, NL/AT)

Curator

Gabriele Schor, head of the VERBUND COLLECTION, Vienna

Exhibition design

Klemen Breitfuss

Exhibition venue

Great Hall

Exhibits

Over 200 artworks: drawings, lithographs, photographs, sculptures, installations, videos and films as well as documentation material incl. timeline (1968-1980), periodicals, books, photos, postcards

Publication

All 82 artists with over 600 works are brought together on a total of 736 pages in the two-volume Lentos exhibition catalogue "Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s", published by Gabriele Schor. The standard work is available exclusively in the Lentos museum shop, priced €49.

In cooperation with

An exhibition in cooperation with the VERBUND COLLECTION

Opening times

Tue – Sun, 10.00 am – 6.00 pm, Thu 10.00 am – 8.00 pm
Closed Mondays
Special opening times can be found on www.lentos.at

Admission

 €8, concessions €6 / €4.50

Press contact

Clarissa Ujvari
M: +43 664 888 933 42
T: +43 (0)732 7070-3603 clarissa.ujvari@lentos.at
Ernst-Koref-Promenade 1
4020 Linz

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