Ladies First!

Women Artists from Styria 1850–1950


Curated by: Gudrun Danzer and Günther Holler-Schuster

Open House: 26.09.2020, 10am - 5 pm, free admission

About the exhibition

Traditionally, women's art has not been given the same opportunities as men's art to become known and recognised. In Styria, the situation of women who aspired to work as artists did not differ fundamentally from the rest of Austria or Europe. Since the Enlightenment, theories were spread which assigned the spiritual – and thus art – to the masculine principle, while nature and the physical were assigned to the feminine. The effects of these theories rippled throughout the entire system of art. Women were denied the ability to possess genius and inventiveness – the very prerequisites for artistic creation. 

At the same time, it was with the dawn of the Enlightenment, too, that women’s call for the same human and civil rights as those granted to men began. In the second half of the 19th century, this emancipation movement led to an increasing number of women overcoming resistance to take up the profession of independent artist. From around the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, women had a major influence on art movements such as Austria’s ‘Atmospheric Realism.’ 

Nonetheless, an art system shaped by men systematically marginalised women’s art creation: works by women were exhibited less, discussed, purchased and researched by art historians less. The result was and is that women’s art plays a subordinate role in our cultural memory, even today. 

The stated goal of the exhibition Ladies First! is to counteract this general suppression of women’s art. Presenting the works of around 60 female artists, the show informs us of their life-stories, of the conditions under which they worked. In this way, the Neue Galerie Graz continues its tradition of correcting our view of history and of rehabilitating forgotten positions. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue offer for the first time a survey of women’s art in Styria from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century. They invite us to revisit already familiar female artists such as Marie Egner, Friederike Koch-Langentreu, Ida Maly or Vevean Oviette, and to discover previously unknown ones such as Anna Lynker, Marianne Stokes or Mara Schrötter-Malliczky. 

The project was developed in the awareness that it is absurd to place one sex above the other hierarchically, and in the hope that it may thus contribute to true equality between women and men. The theme will be continued in May 2021 with an exhibition drawing on the international holdings in the Neue Galerie Graz collection, which will cover the period spanning the 1970s to the present day.



Also visit:

Urs Lüthi, „Tell me who stole your smile (self portait)”, 1974,
Permanent Collection

Ladies and Gentlemen

The Fragile Feminist We

15.10.2021-30.10.2022   >  Neue Galerie Graz

In a continuation of the historic show "Ladies First!", this theme is closely examined with works from the Neue Galerie’s international collection ranging from the 1970s to the present day. more...

Neue Galerie Graz

8010 Graz, Österreich
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On October 10th and 11th, 2023, the Neue Galerie Graz will be closed due to renovation works. The studio exhibition (Ebru Kurbak), the exhibitione in the foyer (Alek Kawka), and the Natural History Museum (Walter Köstenbauer) will still be open for visitors.

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