The exhibition “Women Artists in Dialogue” is conceived as a visual conversation between women artists from different European countries who belong to the generation born around 1900: heads, nudes, still life, landscapes and portraits by Lotte Laserstein, Käthe Loewenthal, Ilse Heller-Lazard, Else Lohmann, Jacoba van Heemskerck, Alice Lex-Nerlinger, Gerda Rotermund, Eva Besnyö, Florence Henri, Natalia Goncharova and many others, most of whom reflect currents in modernist art after the First World War.
This spring sees the third edition of “Women Artists in Dialogue”, which draws on the stories of the lives, career and work of many artists brought to public attention by Das Verborgene Museum in recent decades.
At the centre of the show are two works from the 1920s: the Expressionist “Still Life with Japanese Doll” (c. 1925) by Martel Schwichtenberg (1896–1945) and the Constructivist “Still Life with Cups” (1928) by Lou Loeber (1894–1983).
Schwichtenberg, who chose the forename Martel in reference to the well-known Cognac, featured in exhibitions organised by the Galerie Flechtheim in Berlin, was an active member of the Association of Women Artists in Berlin and modelled her appearance with gentleman’s suit and tie on that of sculptor Milly Steger (1881–1948), whose larger-than-life female nudes on the façade of the theatre in Hagen had caused such a furore in 1911. Schwichtenberg was financially secure throughout most of her career thanks to her employment with Bahlsen in Hanover, where she designed wrappings and advertisements.
The Dutch painter Lou Loeber, two years her senior, adopted a rigorously Constructivist technique. Her art was influenced by her encounters with Piet Mondrian and Gerrit Rietveld, colleagues from the De Stijl movement who, in similar ways to the Constructivists Kasimir Malevich and Natalia Goncharova in the Soviet Union and Alice Lex and Oskar Nerlinger in the Berlin of the Weimar Republic, were exploring a visual idiom composed of geometric shapes and primary colours. Lou Loeber did not completely dispense with objects, and unlike her colleague Mondrian she incorporated curves and circles, as she does in her two paintings “Sunflowers” and “Still Life with Cups” (1928).
Among the Constructivist artists were the Russian avant-garde painter Natalia Goncharova (1881–1962), the painter and photographer Florence Henri (1893–1982) with her reflected “Self-Portrait” (1928) and Jacoba van Heemskerck (1876–1923), who made her breakthrough in the art market following her contacts with Herwarth Walden’s gallery “Sturm” and its participation in the First German Autumn Salon in Berlin in 1913.
The exhibition, with about 60 paintings, photographs, drawings, prints and sculptures by some 30 artists, concludes with two abstract works which derive their impact entirely from the use of polished gold leaf: “Skin” (1961) by the Norwegian Anna-Eva Bergman (1909–1987) and the “Golden Cloth” (2005) by Dutch artist Beppe Kessler (1952).
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