Julie Wolfthorn in her Berlin studio

100 Years Opening of the Berlin Art Academy for Women
Exhibition from June 17, 2019 to October 13, 2019

Schloss Biesdorf, Alt-Biesdorf 55, Berlin

with Birgit Bellmann (graphic print), Alke Brinkmann (painting), Ines Doleschal (collage), Else (Twin) Gabriel (photography, video, painting), Ellen Kobe (performance, installation), Coco Kühn (installation), Petra Lottje (video, drawing), Seraphina Lanz (wall piece, object), Cornelia Renz (drawing), Karin Rosenberg (object), Fiene Scharp (Cut-out), Elisabeth Sonneck (installation), Ute Weiss Leder (installation), Gaby Taplick (installation)

as well as Charlotte Berend-Corinth (painting, printmaking), Hannah Höch (collages), Marg Moll (sculpture), Lotte Laserstein (drawing), Doramaria Purschian (drawing, painting), Emy Roeder (sculpture), Erna Schmidt-Caroll (drawings, painting), Maria Slavona (painting), Gertrud Spitta (painting), Milly Steger (sculpture), Elisabeth Voigt (printmaking) and Julie Wolfthorn (painting).

As of March 1919 women were allowed to study at the Royal Academy of Art in Berlin. Until then they had been dependent on private teachers, overpriced “ladies’ classes” or arts and crafts schools. Today only a few of the female artists who asserted themselves in the patriarchal art world in the 19th century until the First World War are known and were sometimes able to fight for a recognized position that would secure their livelihood. Their works still lie largely unexplored in archives and depots. A few, such as Jeanne Mammen, Lotte Laserstein and Renée Sintenis, have recently received late and timid appreciation.

In an exhibition at Schloss Biesdorf we want to juxtapose the partly still unknown works of first-generation sculptors and painters such as Julie Wolfthorn, Marg Moll, Milly Steger and Erna Schmidt-Caroll with positions of contemporary Berlin artists. In portraits and landscape paintings, still lifes and children’s portraits, the artists of Classical Modernism show not only their talent, but also their bias in a world of motifs dictated to them by their male colleagues. When Hannah Höch and others consciously break with the iconographic tradition and touch on social taboos in terms of content, this demonstrates her great courage and self-confidence. Breaking taboos is also a concern of contemporary female artists. They develop site- and exhibition-related works that critically reflect today’s art world – its exhibition practice and funding structures, its value system and gender issues. Through room installations, film and video, cut outs, collages, painting and performance, the Berlin artists open up a visual dialogue with the artists of the time and create a space for thought for questions that are virulent both then and now.

In conjunction with a mediation concept and an accompanying programme of lectures, films, readings and a discussion forum in the lecture hall of Biesdorf Palace, we see the exhibition KLASSE DAMEN! as a contribution to a socio-political discourse and as an impetus for an effective public reflection. As artists and curators, as women for whom the balancing act between family and artistic work is a daily challenge, we have a great interest in making the largely unknown history of the admission of women to the art academies public. With it we thematize and discuss all the implications that arose for women then and still arise today – from family fractures, childlessness and poverty to defamation, prejudice and ostracism to “modern” problems such as structural discrimination in the art world with its still rampant gender pay and gender show gap.

Curation: Ellen Kobe and Ines Doleschal in collaboration with Karin Scheel
Accompanying programme: lectures, panel discussion, musical-literary matinee, film programme etc.
Art education: Labor M in collaboration with Birgit Bellmann
Lenders: Bröhan-Museum, Georg Kolbe Museum, Kunstarchiv Beeskow, Reinickendorf zu Berlin District Office, Galerie Die Möwe Berlin, Berlinische Galerie, Akademie der Künste, Das Verborgene Museum, as well as private collectors.