Works of the Daimler Art Collection from 1930–2020
Following the idea of two exhibitions curated by legendary Dadaist Marcel Duchamp in 1942 and 1945 for Peggy Guggenheim’s newly opened avant-garde space “Art of This Century” in New York, the Daimler Contemporary puts over 60 works from its art collection on view through September 26th.
Photo by: Guest exhibition, Marcus Neufanger, Real Life Drawings
Called 31:Women, the exhibition focuses on leading female artists of the 20th and 21st century and also sheds light on the research and projects conducted by its staff in the last five years on Duchamp and his curatorial practices.
The art collector Peggy Guggenheim had just opened her gallery on West 57 Street in the fall of 1942 when afriend Marcel Duchamp suggested that she organizes an all-woman exhibition. Guggenheim loved the idea: the show, featuring 31 women, would be radical not only because of its gender composition but also because of its modernist selection, with most of the paintings, drawings, and sculptures on view being either abstract or Surrealist.
Even though Georgia O'Keeffe declined an invitation to be in the show, saying that she refuses to be categorized as a "woman painter," many others, working in the shadows of male artists or facing gender discrimination, have joined. Among them were sculptor Xenia Cage, whose husband took all the fame (the composer John Cage) and painter Buffie Johnson, who had been bluntly refused by critics to review her shows, noting that women should stick to having babies.
Photo by: Natalia Stachon
Then there was Gypsy Rose Lee, a popular vaudeville stripper (who was also a writer and a regular in the bohemian cultural circles) and the more traditional, full-time artists, like the abstract sculptor Louise Nevelson and the Surrealists Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington, Leonor Fini, and Meret Oppenheim, whose work, a teacup and spoon covered in fur, had shocked the visitors at the MoMA’s "Fantastic Art" exhibition several years prior.
The second exhibition, "The Women", was on view in the summer of 1945, featuring 33 women artists, some of whom had also taken part in the previous show, but also new ones, like Nell Blaine, Louise Bourgeois, Lee Krasner, Charmion von Wiegand, and Catherine Yarrow.
Daimler’s version of “31 Women” is organized in historical terms, starting with the works from the Bauhaus and concrete art traditions, moving on to European and American movements, such as Group Zero and Minimalism, and then expanding to younger artists from India, South Africa, Nigeria, Chile, Israel, the United States, and other countries.
Spanning from works of Anni Albers (1899-1994) to Andrea Zittel (b. 1965), its content reflects a wide range of early feminist trends, as well as contemporary perspectives. The latter include videos by Andrea Fraser, photos by Zanele Muholi and Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, silk screen prints by Anni Albers and sculpture by Madeleine Boschan. There’s something from almost every media, artistic movement and corner of the world on display here, truly a magic collection of female art.
Photo by: Berni Searle, Tamara K.E., Annu Palakunnathu Matthew
Photo by: Natalia Stachon
The exhibition explores the topics of feminine archetypes, cosmic rhythms and cycles of individual life, war and wounding, identity change and role-playing. The frontline is taken by artistic positions that deal with postcolonialism, feminism, and a contemporary perspective on identity politics and gender constructions.
Seemingly, the condescending rhetoric of the critics and the male-dominant artistic community of the last century is largely out-of-date today, but the problem of underrepresentation of women in major art collections remains. Applauding to the efforts of The Daimler Art Collection, it’s worth noting that it currently comprises of works of around 650 artists, 170 of whom are women. Roughly 25% representation is great, but there is still a long way to go.
With the change of management in 2001, a strategic focus was placed on incorporating women artists, and, in the last decade, significant works by female representatives of postwar international avant-garde movements and contemporary art found their way into the collection.
You can visit the Daimler Contemporary without prior booking or proof of a negative test result. Daimler Contemporary Berlin is opened daily 11 am – 6 pm, Haus Huth, Alte Potsdamer Straße 5, 10785 Berlin.
31: Women is part of a wider Daimler Art Collection project planned for the period from March 2020 to September 2021. This includes the publication of a book “Duchamp and the Women: Friendship, Cooperation, Network” and a series of lectures, supplementing and accompanying the Berlin exhibition at Daimler Contemporary. Around 60 women who shaped their time as artists, authors, gallery owners, art collectors, publishers, or designers from around 1900 to the present day will be presented in the course of this project.