On International Women’s Day, 8 March 2020, the special exhibition “Struggle for Visibility. Women Artists of the National Gallery before 1919” in the Alte Nationalgalerie will come to an end. With Jenny Holzer’s work “Men don’t protect you anymore”, now presented in the Kolonnadenhof on Berlin’s Museum Island, the theme of the visibility of women artists will continue to be present in public space.
The 7.5 x 25.5 cm aluminium plaque with the words “Men don’t protect you anymore” is part of the “Survival” series developed by Jenny Holzer between 1983 and 1985. In the tradition of Piero Manzoni’s apparently empty pedestals, the plaque is permanently installed on a sculpture pedestal in the colonnade courtyard, similar to an object inscription, thus commenting in a prominent position not only on the gender debate, but also on the theme of the visibility of female artists.
Survival: Men don’t protect you anymore, Ansicht Kolonnadenhof, Museumsinsel Berlin, Courtesy Sprüth Magers,
© 1984 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY, Foto: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / David von Becker
Since the 1970s, the American artist Jenny Holzer (born 1950) has been experimenting with the means of language in public space. Her so-called “Truisms” – thought-provoking, veracious one-liners – Holzer initially placed posters in New York’s urban space. Subsequently, she took over increasingly prominent spaces such as Times Square to place her ambivalent statements on illuminated billboards. Jenny Holzer has been represented in the collection of the National Gallery since 2001 with a light installation designed especially for the New National Gallery.
For around ten years now, the Nationalgalerie has regularly invited contemporary artists* to permanently install their works on a plinth of the Kolonnadenhof. After Jonathan Meese with “Humpty-DumptyMaschine der totalen Zukunft” (2010) and Joep van Lieshout with “The Monument” (2015), Jenny Holzer is now the first artist to provide this surface with a work.
The special exhibition “Battle for Visibility. Female Artists of the National Gallery before 1919” is the first to be devoted in detail to all works by women painters and sculptors created before 1919 and is a revision of the National Gallery’s collection under the important aspect of today’s discourses on equality.
While some of the more than 60 works have been part of the Alte Nationalgalerie’s permanent exhibition for decades – including paintings by Caroline Bardua, Elisabeth Jerichau-Baumann or Sabine Lepsius – others, including works by portrait and history painters Friederike O’Connell or Paula Monjé, have not been on public view to date. Numerous once successful artists have been forgotten over the course of time, such as the Norwegian sculptor Ambrosia Tønnesen, the salon painter Vilma Parlaghy, who was also successful in the USA, or the Russian avant-garde pioneer Natalija Gončarova. In their diversity, the artists made a significant contribution to the art scene of their time.
“Struggle for Visibility. Women Artists of the National Gallery before 1919” has already been seen by over 125,000 visitors* and can only be seen at the Alte Nationalgalerie until Sunday, 8 March 2020. Now that the exhibition will be travelling as part of the Federal Programme, many of the works will be on display in the newly conceived permanent exhibition of the Alte Nationalgalerie.
Survival: Men don’t protect you anymore, Ansicht Kolonnadenhof,
Museumsinsel Berlin, Courtesy Sprüth Magers,
© 1984 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY,
Foto: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / David von Becker
The idea of the Kolonnadenhof goes back to Karl Friedrich Schinkel. In 1880 the courtyard was designed by the then director of the Tiergarten, Eduard Neide, and realized in its present form by the Berlin landscape architecture firm Levin Monsigny. As a registered garden monument, the Kolonnadenhof is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. It connects the Old National Gallery and the New Museum, is a green space, meeting place and exhibition area at the same time.
WHERE? Kolonnadenhof, Museum Island (Museumsinsel) Berlin, freely accessible via the Bodestraße, 10178 Berlin-Mitte
Image caption cover: Survival: Men don’t protect you anymore, Ansicht Kolonnadenhof, Museumsinsel Berlin, Courtesy Sprüth Magers, © 1984 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY, Foto: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / David von Becker
Jenny Holzer – Men don’t protect … Museum Island Berlin | ART at Berlin