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

March 27, 2017

Art Basel HK Verdict – Encouraging Sales Across The Board For 2017

Artlyst

Art Basel’s fifth edition in Hong Kong has closed with encouraging sales recorded across all levels of the market. This demonstrates a continued demand for high-quality works by the world’s leading international collectors and institutions. Attendance at this year’s show, whose Lead Partner is UBS, rose to nearly 80,000 – due to the introduction of evening ticket sales and improved crowd control measures – and attracted leading members of the international art world. Many observers felt that this edition had built on the show’s strong history to attain new levels – Art Basel in Hong Kong now not only stands as the premier fair in Asia but also as one of the leading fairs worldwide. Read More
March 3, 2017

The 20 Best Booths at The Armory Show

ARTSY EDITORIAL by Alexxa Gotthardt

Fergus McCaffrey’s elegant booth mingles the practices of two American artists who came of age in the 1960s and happen to be great friends. The works of Marcia Hafif and Richard Nonas, however, differ greatly—and that’s precisely what makes this presentation so compelling. Hafif’s hyper-saturated canvases featuring curvaceous forms that resemble bodily contours (she calls these her “Pop-Minimal” paintings) draw you in. Nonas’s more subtle patinaed steel sculptures cover the floor. They resemble architectural forms or ritualized objects; given Nonas’s early years as an anthropologist, they just might be inspired by them, too. Read More