Birgit Jürgenssen

Born and educated in Vienna, Jürgenssen died prematurely at the age of fifty-four. Her artwork received scant attention during her lifetime; however, recent monographs by Gabriele Schor and Abigail Solomon-Godeau have begun to spread awareness of the depth and breadth of Jürgenssen’s artistic achievement. Growing up in the era of über-expressionist Viennese Actionism and coming of age in a conservative, male-dominated Viennese art world, Jürgenssen developed an extraordinarily rich private studio practice that encompassed drawing, performance, photography, and sculpture.

Jürgenssen’s drawings from the late 1960s reach into psychedelic pop culture, with fluffy, Lorax-like trees and Yellow Submarine–style cartoon characters rendered in exquisite detail and color. In the early 1970s, she developed a surrealist trajectory that provoked further dreamlike vistas. Issues of gender are apparent in Jürgenssen’s photographic works, sculptures, and drawings from every period. One such example includes her 1976 shoe work, Untitled (wedding shoe). The scuffed white shoe, adorned in symbolic matrimonial attire of a veil and artificial flowers, is displayed within a glass vitrine on top of a bed of sand, potentially implying seduction and sadism, presentation and confinement.

Her self-portraits often represent hybrid human forms, showing the female body adapted and armored, debunking gender codes and roles such as in Nest (1979/2002), which features a nest filled with two small eggs sitting between Jürgenssen’s crossed and sheer-stockinged legs. Meanwhile her Stoffarbeiten (fabric works) also allude to this hybridization. Consisting of photographic prints mounted on canvas and attached to iron frames, these works juxtapose imagery of human figures and other forms. Examples include Houdini (1990) and Vertigo II (1994).

Jürgenssen studied at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, in 1968–71. A solo exhibition of her drawings took place at Graphische Sammlung, Albertina, Vienna, in 1978. Between 1980 and 1997, she lectured in Vienna at the University of Applied Arts and then the Academy of Fine Arts. Understanding of Jürgenssen’s work has been nurtured by Galerie Hubert Winter, Vienna, since 1981. Recent retrospective solo exhibitions include MAK, School of Applied Arts, Vienna, 2004; Sammlung Verbund, Vienna, 2009; and the Bank Austria Kunstforum, Vienna, 2010–11.

Selected Artworks

October 13, 2017

FIAC 2017: Top galleries in “Avenue Winston Churchill, On Site”


FIAC 2017, the International Art Fair exhibiting the best Contemporary Art galleries of the world, awaits its grand opening on October 19 in Paris. This year FIAC will have two sub-sections, Avenue Winston Churchill and Petit Palais, showcasing outdoor works featuring seminal works by the most prominent galleries all over the world. These two sub-sections fall in FIAC’s new sub division of “On Site” that was introduced last year. Read More
September 5, 2017

Marcia Hafif: Upcoming Museum Shows in Switzerland

Opening at Kunsthaus Baselland: Thursday 14th September, 6:30 PM

The MARCIA HAFIF exhibition is created in collaboration with the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (MARCIA HAFIF: September 16-January 14, 2018) and the Kunsthaus Baselland in Muttenz (MARCIA HAFIF: September 15–November 12, 2017).
Hafif (b.1929, USA, living in New York and Laguna Beach) is among the pioneers of the 1970s who fundamentally broadened con­ceptions of the practice of painting and under­standing of art per se. Since the 1980s, terms like ‘radical’ have been used to describe Hafif’s work with monochrome painting. The pencil on paper drawings, vertical pencil marks cover­ ing a surface, begun in 1972, led to the ver­tical stroke in paint. Her work in both mediums still continues, fitting within what she calls The Inventory. Each series included in The Inventory develops a single medium using tra­ditional methods and materials for making paint and preparing a ground. Individual works in a series can be larger or smaller, and usually are made with vertical brush­strokes, with which the effects of unmixed colours on a suit­able painting ground are sounded out. Works from the series that may be her most radical will be exhibited at the Kunsthaus Baselland: the Black Paintings (1979/80) in which she found black by layering ultramarine blue and burnt umber. There will also be photographs and films on display.
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