MUSEUM FRIEDER BURDA, BADEN-BADEN, GERMANY
13 MAY – 8 OCTOBER 2023
This is an exhibition of our time: Superman is thwarted and hits a wall, an oversized hybrid female hare offers motherly protection, a pair of seahorses switch traditional gender roles, and passion creates sparks. With a selection of contemporary works by thirty-one female artists of different generations and cultures, the exhibition at the Museum Frieder Burda presents exclusively female positions and their wide spectrum of themes.Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979) was an art collector, gallerist, and patron of the arts. The legendary American is considered a pioneer and supporter of international avant-garde artists ranging from Max Ernst and Marcel Duchamp to Jackson Pollock. She, too, experienced her role as a woman in an expanding and male dominated art scene with ambivalence.Exactly eighty years ago, Guggenheim presented her visionary gallery Art of this Century in New York, the show carried the title "Exhibition by 31 Women", and today stands as groundbreaking example of a show featuring women artists exclusively. Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), one of the key figures in twentieth-century art and a longtime friend of Guggenheim's, advised her on the show. Duchamp, who was also a passionate chess player, provided the title and concept for the exhibition. As is well known, the queen is the most powerful figure in chess, while the king has a limited radius of action and depends on the other figures for protection. Contemporary critics reacted with both reserved admiration and condescension. The verdicts culminated in a review by James Stern, the art critic of the iTIME, who rejected the exhibition outright on the grounds that he had never seen a “first-class woman artist.” How wrong could a critic be!
© All images Nikolas Kazakov
The conceptual foundation of this historic exhibition is now taken up by "The King is Dead, Long Live the Queen", which also presents the work of thirty-one contemporary women artists who reflect on recent aesthetic, political, and social transformations. The exhibition aims to allow the presented works to have their own voices, which are free and independent of the ideological debates that are so prevalent in today's cultural landscape.Udo Kittelmann, the curator of the exhibition and artistic director of the museum, has invited artists who were decisive both for him, personally, and for his extensive career. The presentation unites works from various disciplines – painting, sculpture, film, sound, and installation – that together contribute to the overall theme of the exhibition while nevertheless remaining focused as distinct individual positions. As Kittelmann explains, “The exhibition gives the works a voice and believes in their power and meaning, allowing some of them to be loud and others to assert themselves subtly and quietly.”
© Text and Video Museum Frieder Burda