Paths to the Future

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Female Artists of the Art Club

The exhibition follows the traces of strong women in the Austrian art scene during a largely unexplored period: between 1945 and the feminist avant-garde of the 1970s. This period saw the rise of outstanding female artists, including Maria Biljan-Bilger, Susanne Wenger and Maria Lassnig, who thoroughly stirred up the postwar artistic activity.

After World War II, male and female artists, who wanted to distance themselves from the aesthetics of dictatorial regimes, especially the National Socialist regime, united in the international Art Club Vienna. Among the members were also personalities who were active in political protest, such as Maria Biljan-Bilger and Susanne Wenger. Many of the artists of the Art Club were painters. Biljan-Bilger worked as a ceramic artist and sculptor. Johanna Schidlo was an extremely popular tapestry artist in the 1950s and 1960s. The exhibition also features works by Gerhild Diesner, Marcia Hopman, Agnes Muthspiel, Hilda Polsterer and Ursula Schuh-Diedrich.

Some of the female members of the Art Club were able to gain recognition beyond their own country, above all Greta Freist, Maria Lassnig and Susanne Wenger. The latter had already visited Paris in 1947. And even before postmodernism arrived in Vienna after the heyday of actionism, Wenger was active in Africa. Together with local artists, the painter, textile artist and sculptor built a sacred Yoruba grove, which had been decayed due to colonialism. In 2005, this forest, along with her archisculptures, was declared UNESCO World Heritage. Wenger succeeded in uniting European and African Art.

Maria Lassnig gained the greatest international recognition, not only because of her stay in America, but also because of her many contributions to documentas and biennials.

Curators: Brigitte Borchhardt-Birbaumer, Christian Bauer

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