Goddesses of Art Nouveau


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Fairies and furies, cyclists and athletes - images of women in Art Nouveau are the focus of this special German-Dutch exhibition project. "Goddesses of Art Nouveau" opens its doors on March 29 in the Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum. Whether it's as a terrible mythical creature, a beautiful goddess or a smartly dressed advertising icon – The Woman, in various guises, formed one of the most important motifs in Art Nouveau. The exhibition explores both the range and the ambivalence of images of women around the year 1900.

The fin de siècle was a time of radical change. Urbanisation, mass consumerism and advertising, industrialisation, class struggle and the women's movement shaped this period. The new art quickly became popular across Europe, whether as the Arts and Crafts movement in England, Art Nouveau in France, Modernismo in Spain, or Jugendstil in Germany. The theme of the exhibition is the construction of images of women in Art Nouveau. Art Nouveau as an art-historical era (c. 1890 to 1914) was primarily characterised by its floral ornaments, flowing lines and abstract forms. Linked to its programmatic approach – the call for “rushing enthusiasm and unexpected delight” (August Endell, 1898) – was the desire to have a positive effect on all areas of life through art.

A look at the civil code of that time is enough to grasp the disparity between idealised design and the realities of female life. Numerous media stations throughout the exhibition therefore shed light on both the real living conditions of women, and their demands for social participation and a political voice. The exhibition also gives a voice to lesser-known female Art Nouveau artists in the male-dominated world of the fin de siècle, presenting their lives and their art.

The exhibition sheds new light on an extraordinary era and how the image of women was used during this period – in paintings, jewellery, advertising posters and book covers. Look forward, also, to an exciting accompanying programme in the garden in Hinter Aegidien, in Art Nouveau city tours, in the Diversity Salon and much more. You can find more information in our events calendar.

 A richly illustrated publication accompanies the exhibition.

"Goddesses of Art Nouveau" is a joint project by Allard Pierson combining material from collections at the University of Amsterdam, the Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe and the Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum.

Sponsored by:

  • Stiftung Braunschweigischer Kulturbesitz
  • Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur
  • Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung
  • Stiftung Niedersachsen
  • Günter Kalkhof Stiftung