They are expressive self-images of female artists, which also give a glimpse of the development of emancipation: Under the self-confident title "HERE I AM!" the Emden Kunsthalle is showing self-portraits by 30 artists of the 20th and 21st centuries from this Saturday - until the beginning of September. Works by Katharina Sieverding, Maria Lassnig, Käthe Kollwitz, Hanna Nagel and Marina Abramović, among others, are on display.
The personal pictures showed how the cultural workers themselves want to be seen, said Lisa Felicitas Mattheis, scientific director and board member of the Kunsthalle. The portraits also provide information about the role of women in their respective times.
Female artists claim their place in art
The show offers a look at the strategies with which female artists claimed their place in art - for example in the mirror of male representations. Among the more than 80 works on display is a further development of the motif "Art is a Criminal Action" by Ulrike Rosenbach, with which she takes up Andy Warhol's well-known motif "Double Elvis". While in Warhol's original two Elvis Presleys approach the viewer with a revolver, in her adaptation from the 1970s Rosenbach posed in the same pose next to Elvis.
"We see a lot of portraits that are delicate and reserved. But we also see a lot of them that show incredible chutzpah," Mattheis said. The self-portraits are about status, roles, self-assertion and wishful thinking. The show takes up different perspectives of female self-portrayal. Among other things, it is about masquerades, motherhood, identity issues and aging.
The idea for the exhibition arose from the motivation to work with and from the collection of the Kunsthalle founders Henri and Eske Nannen and the Otto van de Loos donation, said Mattheis. In previous exhibitions, for example on "The Myth of the Forest" and "Nolde/Rohlfs", the curators were able to draw on numerous works from the collection - in the case of "HERE I AM!" is that different
Several loans in the show
Working with the collection also includes showing what doesn't exist, said the director - and there is a clear imbalance in gender relations: only about ten percent of the works in the collection were created by female artists. Therefore, many loans can now be seen in the show.
Although self-portraits have a long history and women have always shaped art history as muses and models, they have long been denied the role of artists themselves. It was not until the 20th century that female artists were admitted to art academies, said Mattheis. Until then, artistic training was mostly reserved for daughters from wealthy families.
Nowadays there are more and more exhibitions that focus on the work of female artists, said Mattheis. The Kunsthalle is also planning further shows with female positions. "HERE I AM!" can be seen in the seaport city until September 3rd.