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Panther Women. Five female artists from Leipzig - extended until 13/06/2020

04.04. - 13.06.2020

The Leipzig "panther women" who give this exhibition at Döbele Kunst Mannheim its leitmotif and artistic charisma have managed the leap into successful careers a long time ago. Petra Flemming (1944-1988), Katrin Kunert (*1962), Gudrun Petersdorff (*1955) and Doris Ziegler (*1949) did liberate themselves from external constraints not only after the autumn revolution of 1989, when the old Saxon trade fair metropolis was to become a "hero city". Those women artists were already ready to set out in the GDR era, putting their risky self-will against the dogma of collectivity and exemplifying unbound individuality in a socialist world. With the means of art, they dared to rebel by focusing their work on the authenticity of undisguised experience and by defending themselves against the omnipotence of late Stalinist tamers. It was the poet Sarah Kirsch who elevated the "unvarnished" lives of East German women to the status of literature in her book "Die Pantherfrau" (The Panther Woman), published in East Germany in 1974 (and later to become a guiding reading for all-German feminism). In parallel, it was the unadorned portraits of women by Leipzig painters that realigned the compass. At the same time, some of their works also illustrate the strong influence of their own teachers at the world-famous "Leipzig School". First through Werner Tübke, later with Bernhard Heisig, with whom Max Beckmann, Otto Dix and the proletarian-revolutionary art of the 1920s became continuous patterns of orientation. Subsequently, the women artists assembled in this gallery exhibition contributed far more to the successful model of a "Leipzig School" than seems to have been recognized so far. Thus, the female painters played a major role in ensuring that the appeal of the Leipzig School of Painting survived the so-called "Wende" and found its continuation in a "New Leipzig School" that established itself from the year 2000 onwards. Isabelle Dutoit (*1975), the youngest of the five Leipzig artists assembled here, chose the Academy of Visual Arts as a place to study and live in the 1990s partly because here the transformation following German reunification had not led to a strategic realignment of the institution, which had long since become legendary, and painting as a core discipline had not lost its prominent status. Doris Ziegler, Katrin Kunert, and Gudrun Petersdorff certainly played a significant role in this, since as professors and lecturers at the Academy of Visual Arts after 1990 they held fast to graphic solidity and to the school-forming traditions of elaborate figure painting. (Dr. Paul Kaiser)

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