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The Memory Factory

The Forgotten Women Artists of Vienna 1900

by Julie M. Johnson

Publication Year: 2012

The Memory Factory introduces an English-speaking public to the significant women artists of Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century, each chosen for her aesthetic innovations and participation in public exhibitions. These women played important public roles as exhibiting artists, both individually and in collectives, but this history has been silenced over time. Their stories show that the city of Vienna was contradictory and cosmopolitan: despite men-only policies in its main art institutions, it offered a myriad of unexpected ways for women artists to forge successful public careers. Women artists came from the provinces, Russia, and Germany to participate in its vibrant art scene. However, and especially because so many of the artists were Jewish, their contributions were actively obscured beginning in the late 1930s. Many had to flee Austria, losing their studios and lifework in the process. Some were killed in concentration camps. Along with the stories of individual women artists, the author reconstructs the history of separate women artists’ associations and their exhibitions. Chapters covering the careers of Tina Blau, Elena Luksch-Makowsky, Helene Funke, and Teresa Ries (among others) point to a more integrated and cosmopolitan art world than previously thought; one where women became part of the avant-garde, accepted and even highlighted in major exhibitions at the Secession and with the Klimt group. “This is an excellent addition to the literature on fin-de-siècle Vienna, well-researched and well-argued. It highlights little-known artists and situates them in a novel interpretation of women’s roles in the art world. The author challenges dominant tropes of feminist historiography and thus sheds new light on twentieth-century art history and historiography,” Michael Gubser, James Madison University.

Published by: Purdue University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix-xiii

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pp. xv-xvi

This book would not have been possible without the assistance of many, to whom I express my sincere gratitude. My first thanks go to Gary Cohen for supporting this project at Purdue University Press and for his erudite comments. Michael Gubser, who read the entire manuscript, also made excellent suggestions. I owe a debt of...

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pp. xvii-xviii

Although studies of the cultural life of Vienna 1900 have become a veritable industry over the last thirty years, there is still much to be uncovered and analyzed about the development of art, literature, scholarship, science, and popular culture in that rich milieu. Julie M. Johnson’s The Memory Factory: The Forgotten Women Artists of Vienna...

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pp. 1-18

“Too much Feodorowna Ries! A windstorm of publicity is blowing through the Viennese leaflet-woods.”1 This was Karl Kraus’s complaint on the media interest that sculptor Teresa Ries (1874-1956) attracted when she opened her atelier at the Palais Liechtenstein to a ten-year show of her work. Ries, who won the...

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Writing, Erasing, Silencing: Tina Blau and the (Woman)Artist’s Biography

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pp. 19-54

Impressionist Tina Blau (1845-1916) painted aesthetically innovative works, like the 1898 View of Vienna, in which she allows the paint to hover over the canvas, the brushstrokes and color taking precedence over the figures and landscape that they represent (fig. 3). Cultural critics Karl Kraus (1874-1936), Rosa Mayreder...

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Elena Luksch-Makowsky and the New Spatial Aesthetic at theVienna Secession

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pp. 55-109

Like fellow Russian Teresa Ries, Elena Luksch-Makowsky (1878-1965) lived her most productive and successful years as an artist in Vienna at the turn of the century. They were only two of several women who exhibited their works at the Secession. But they stand out for different reasons: Ries (1874-1956), who...

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Broncia Koller and Interiority in Public Art Exhibitions

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pp. 111-176

Broncia Koller (1863-1934) often exhibited her very modern paintings and graphic woodcuts with the Klimt group, from 1908 onward. But when she was rediscovered in the 1980s, she was described as a “painting housewife” in a news story on the first museum exhibition of her work. The author concluded...

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Rediscovering Helene Funke: The Invisible Foremother

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pp. 177-201

Helene Funke (1869-1957) was an Expressionist painter from Chemnitz whose first documented exhibitions are with Matisse and the Fauves in Paris. Little is known about her life, because nearly all of her personal papers were destroyed or lost during World War II.1 What we do know is that, in aesthetic terms, Funke...

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Teresa Ries in the Memory Factory

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pp. 203-243

Teresa Ries was a most unlikely candidate for art historical oblivion: her celebrity was unparalleled; she was an art star who fashioned over life-size figures in marble, stone, plaster, and bronze—a nude witch sharpening her toenails, a Lucifer (fig. 1), a sculpture titled Death (fig. 80), and an Eve in a fetal position...

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Women as Public Artists in the Institutional Landscape

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pp. 245-293

In 1971, Linda Nochlin wrote one of the most influential essays of feminist art history, in which she explained why there had been no great women artists. It was, she argued, because women were excluded from participating in art institutions: “The fault lies not in our stars, our hormones, our menstrual cycles, or...

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The Ephemeral Museum of Women Artists

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pp. 295-335

With over 300 works of art, the 1910 historical retrospective, The Art of the Woman, was a major blockbuster even by today’s standards.1 The survey emphasized the historical legacy of the “old mistresses,” covering the Italian Renaissance to American and French Impressionism, with 88 works in the central room...

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1900-1938: Erasure

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pp. 337-372

Despite a lively subculture of misogyny, the discursive culture of fin-de-siècle Vienna alone does not explain why its once famous women artists were forgotten. The difference between 1910 and 1977, the two dates of the retrospective exhibitions of women artists in Vienna and the U.S., is a better place to start. By...


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pp. 373-401


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pp. 403-424


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pp. 425-438

E-ISBN-13: 9781612492247
E-ISBN-10: 161249224X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557536136
Print-ISBN-10: 1557536139

Page Count: 368
Illustrations: 136 images
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 802057089
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Memory Factory

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Subject Headings

  • Art and society -- Austria -- Vienna -- History -- 20th century.
  • Women artists -- Austria -- Vienna -- Biography.
  • Art and society -- Austria -- Vienna -- History -- 19th century.
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