THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE QUEEN
13. MAI – 08. OKTOBER 2023
There are no secrets in chess, only undiscovered truths.
– Savielly Tartakower (1887–1956)
An exhibition for our time. – Superman is slowed down and flies against the wall, an oversized hybrid rabbit offers maternal protection, a pair of seahorses swap traditional gender roles and passion strikes sparks: the exhibition in the Museum Frieder Burda is dedicated exclusively to selected contemporary works by 31 artists of different generations and cultural influences female positions and their broad spectrum of content.
Peggy Guggenheim (1898–1979) was an art collector, gallery owner, and patron. The legendary American is considered a pioneer and supporter of the international avant-garde from Max Ernst to Marcel Duchamp to Jackson Pollock. She, too, experienced her role as a woman in an expanding and male-dominated art scene as ambivalent.
Exactly 80 years ago, Guggenheim presented the exhibition Exhibition by 31 Women in their visionary gallery Art of this Century in New York, a show that only gave a stage to female artists and thus brought them into focus at an early stage. And it was Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968), one of the key figures in 20th-century art, who, as a long-time artist friend, advised her on the title and concept for the exhibition. But Duchamp had another passion: chess. As is well known, the queen is the most powerful piece here, while the king is dependent on the protection of the other pieces in his limited radius of action.
The criticisms of the time oscillated between grudging admiration and condescending disregard. These judgments culminated in the statement by the influential TIME Magazine’s art critic, James Stern, who rejected the exhibition on the grounds that there had never been a “first-rate female artist”. What a mistake even then!
The conceptual basis of this historically important exhibition now takes up The King is Dead, Long Live the Queen and pays tribute to the artistic work of exactly 31 female artists, who address the aesthetic, political and social transformations of our recent times. The artists prove to be witnesses of their time, which is always our time. The exhibition intends to give the works shown here their own voice, free and independent of the ideological debates that are so popular in the cultural sector.
To this end, the curator and artistic director of the museum, Udo Kittelmann, reviewed his long-standing curatorial biography and invited artists who were decisive for him and for their respective context. The presentation brings together works of art from different disciplines, including painting, sculpture, film, sound and installation. In the course of the exhibition, the works combine to form a narrative overall staging – and yet always remain in focus as strong individual positions. “The exhibition gives the works a voice and trusts their power and meaning, sometimes loudly, sometimes subtly quietly asserting themselves,” says Udo Kittelmann.