The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Monday, August 19, 2019

Haus der Kunst presents more than 200 works from all creative periods of Miriam Cahn's artistic career
Miriam Cahn, BLAU und händehochentblösst, 2019. Installation view Haus der Kunst. Photo: Jens Weber, München.

MUNICH.- With more than 200 works from all creative periods, Haus der Kunst honors Miriam Cahn’s artistic career, which has spanned more than five decades. Her work provokes a discussion about new images of the body and humanity today through painting. Even in her early work, Cahn (born 1949 in Basel) explored the female body as a vehicle of social significance, as well as its involvement in the network of power structures. In the 1970s the reduction of women to their physical being was addressed in art forms such as performance or video; the body itself was also being employed as an artistic material and instrument. At the time, Cahn was already translating these ideas and practices into radically extended forms of painting.

In her pictorial worlds, Cahn pushes for the abolishment of social norms and counters the traditional representation of female and gender-specific roles; her images nevertheless seek to include physical experiences that fundamentally elude a visual representation. From her early works, which were strongly influenced by feminism, to her later creations, the focus of her painting has been the body, which Cahn addresses exclusively in its nudity and thus situates in a psychologized sphere of placelessness and timelessness. Clearly outlined in its contours, the body nevertheless dissolves into its surroundings. In her thinking, the artist often explores the boundary between inside and outside and what actually constitutes a human. “We do not really know what skin is or where the boundary between the outside and the inside lies,” says Cahn. The artist depicts humans – irrespective of gender – in all their fragility. Particularly in her later oil paintings, the artist finds new ways of depicting the destruction of identity beyond binary gender discourses.

The exhibition brings together key works from all phases of Cahn’s oeuvre, from the artist’s early Super 8 films, sculptures, larger-than-life chalk drawings and watercolors, to the oil paintings which constitute her main body of work. The beginnings of the younger, Basel-based artist are evident in the charcoal drawings executed on the concrete walls and pillars of the underpasses and tunnels of Basel’s “Nordtangente” freeway – one of her earliest actions. Cahn was subsequently charged with vandalism and faced claims for damages. In the ensuing trial, she made an appeal to publicize the private and the intimate, a conviction that was also revealed in the action’s title, “being a woman is my public part” (1979-80). Like her recurring house, these motifs, which Cahn refers to as “signs,” represent the artist’s struggle for a greater participation of women in public life and a turn against archaic notions of gender relations.

Cahn studied at the School of Applied Arts in Basel (1968-73), where, in a graphic arts class, she became familiar with techniques and strategies of the formation of public opinion. At the same time, she experienced the establishment of new artistic expressions of performance and video art. Like Friederike Pezold, Ulrike Rosenbach, Jochen Gerz and Pipilotti Rist, Miriam Cahn was part of a heterogeneous avant-garde that wanted to redefine the relationship between one’s own body and society. Her larger-than-life charcoal drawings on parchment, such as “handelsschiff”, “doppelkanone”, “W H worldtrade” or “computer” (all 1982) were executed on the floor and are signs of the mentality of patriarchal conquest. Works such as “haus” (1982), “menstruationshaus” (1981) and “k-bett” (1982) also refer to power structures and constructed patterns of representation. Performative as well as intuitive processes influenced the composition of the artist’s images beyond perfect craftsmanship or the cult of the genius in painting.

The installations “WACHRAUM I-III” (1982), which unite various male and female signs, revolve around such topics as a hospital stay and the painful loss of her sister, as does the series “silent sister” (1980). These works emerged from the artist’s need to figuratively formulate vulnerability and defenselessness: experiencing the body and psyche, particularly from a woman’s perspective. Based on a dialogue between these signs, complex contexts of trade and economy, information and power, control and oppression, war and destruction, as well as existential conditions like illness and vulnerability, life and death are visualized.

In the series “Das klassische Lieben” (1981), Miriam Cahn made virtuoso images of the body in a supposedly academic manner, but which she had borrowed from pornographic films. Cahn explored interpersonal attraction and repulsion, the ambivalence of lust, sexuality, violence and love. In so doing, she created counter-images to the humanistic concept of art of the “beautiful and pure” and counteracted the underestimation of the creative and sexual potency of women.

Cahn received an invitation to exhibit in documenta 7 (1982), where she was to be represented with “Wachraum II.” However, contrary to the agreement, the director Rudi Fuchs invited another participant to present work in the same exhibition space as Cahn, which would have deprived Cahn’s work “of its female signs”; the artist therefore decided not to participate in the show. Around the same time, she reached a first peak in her career with her solo exhibition at the Kunsthalle Basel under director Jean-Christoph Ammann in 1983 and an invitation to represent Switzerland at the 41st Venice Biennale in 1984.

The light-dark compositions of her early work culminated in a series of works executed in crushed dark chalk dust – “LESEN IM STAUB” (1986-88). These pieces can be read as an attempt to work with a feminine energy defined by the rhythm of the menstrual cycle. With the representation of children and animals, new motifs find their way into Cahn’s imagery; the figures introduce care and protection as aspects of female existence into her work.

In the mid-1990s Cahn turned to oil painting. From the beginning, her paintings have beguiled with their virtuosic use of bright, vibrant colors, while they disturb with the radical nature of their content: nuclear threat, the Gulf War, the wars in Yugoslavia, the attack on the World Trade Center and, more recently, the refugee crisis. Cahn cites her Jewish roots and the biography of her parents, who emigrated to Switzerland from Nazi Germany, as one of her reasons for exploring war, flight and expulsion.

In her art, Cahn focuses on moments when people are on their own, alone in the face of their fates. Her paintings tell of people who have empowered themselves to decide about the lives of others; she refers to Giorgio Agamben’s concept of the “naked”, treacherous and tormented life of the disempowered. Despite distinctly represented genitals, the figures appear sexless and depersonalized, like proxies of a collective subject. The artist works with diffused, psychological colors and seductive, colorful pictorial spaces to express the immense pain of others. Cahn’s paintings convey empathy with the life of others as an essential aspect of humanity.

“In times of rekindling nationalism, populism, xenophobia, sexism and contempt for pluralism, Cahn's artistic work has become enormously explosive. The artist’s central importance for a radically expanded understanding of the role of women in art historiography has become indisputable,” says curator Jana Baumann.

Cahn questions traditional societal, collective ideas and challenges the standardization of society. Her focus ranges from the initial development of new portrayals of the body to the disclosure of the current entanglement of people in the web of economic and ideological contexts.

Curated by Jana Baumann

Today's News

July 12, 2019

Researchers say ancient Philistine town located in Israel

See Ruskin masterpieces in Cumbria: His home and inspiration

UK spy agency decrypts some secrets with new exhibition

Texan widow gives massive donation of art to French gallery

Tatjana Pieters announces the passing of conceptual painter Philippe Van Snick

Anne Ellegood named ICA LA's next Executive Director

Glass Maestro Lino Tagliapietra opens exhibition at Schantz Galleries

Social media rescue Morocco's last woman potters

Badischer Kunstverein opens Mai-Thu Perret's first major solo exhibition in Germany

Fort Gansevoort commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising with exhibition

England's Creative Coast: Seven new site-specific arts commissions announced today

Paddle8 announces new Head of Partnerships, Marketing & Social Media, Valentine Uhovski

Painting/Sculpture: Marianne Boesky Gallery opens a group exhibition

Techno pioneer Mills says electro music now 'too middle class'

Lehmann Maupin opens an exhibition of work by London-based artist Mandy El-Sayegh

Milestone to launch new gallery with July 27 auction of breweriana, advertising, coin-ops and muscle cars

Historic documents of freedom on view at the National Museum of American Jewish History

BAMPFA mounts dual exhibition of new work by Helen Mirra and Sean Thackrey

The Studio Museum in Harlem announces its Artists in Residence for 2019-20

New museum strategy generates important loan to non-museum location

The Nouveau Musée National de Monaco opens Le Studio: A project by Quetzal for Villa Paloma

Ylise Kessler Gallery opens an exhibition of works by by Julian Hatton and Kay Harvey

Haus der Kunst presents more than 200 works from all creative periods of Miriam Cahn's artistic career

One-of-a-kind meteorite pistols could bring $1 million+ in Heritage Auctions' Nature & Science Auction

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Conservation reveals Wellington Collection work was painted by Titian's Workshop

2.- New dinosaur discovered after lying misidentified in university's vaults for over 30 years

3.- Unseen Texas Chainsaw Massacre outtakes and stills sold for a combined $26,880

4.- National gallery reveals conserved Italian altarpiece by Giovanni Martini da Udine

5.- London's Tate Modern evacuated after child falls, teen arrested

6.- Bavarian State Minister of the Arts restitutes nine works of art

7.- Boy thrown from London's Tate Modern is French tourist visiting UK

8.- Child thrown from London gallery has broken spine, legs and arm

9.- £10 million Turner masterpiece may leave British shores

10.- Tourists banned from sitting on Rome's Spanish Steps

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful