Exhibition New Nuances 12 Jul 2019 - 01 Dec 2019, Cobra Museum, Amstelveen, NL
This summer, the Cobra Museum is adding a nuance to art history. With the exhibition New Nuances, the Cobra Museum aims to slightly alter the image of the Cobra movement as a ‘men’s club’. New Nuances shows the work of eight woman artists in and around Cobra. Some of them celebrated artists, some of them completely forgotten.
While a number of male artists always feature prominently in the history of Cobra, the female artists who contributed have remained more in the background. New Nuances celebrates the work of eight woman artists: Sonja Ferlov Mancoba, Else Alfelt, Ferdi, Madeleine Szemere-Kemeny, Lotti van der Gaag, Dora Tuynman, Anneliese Hager and Henny Riemens.
A ‘triple life’
In 1950 Ferdi (Ferdi Jansen, 1927, Arnhem – 1969, Baarlo) left for Paris, where she trained with sculptor Zadkine between 51 and 52. There, she also met Cobra member Shinkichi Tajiri (1923-2009), who she asked to teach her welding techniques. She then started to experiment with metal compositions and jewellery. Ferdi made jewellery from welded iron, a material that was quite unusual at the time. Her jewellery and other objects were initially inspired by the Cobra imagery, but their structures were soon derived from her interest in insects. After a trip to Mexico in 1965, Ferdi started making monumental flowers and ‘hortisculptures’, often made from synthetic fur and foam plastic. These works cannot be seen in isolation from the struggle in the 1960s for more sexual equality and freedom for women. Free-spirited as she was, though, Ferdi did not see herself as part of the feminist movement. She led – without feeling as if she had a lower status as a woman – a “triple life” in which she simultaneously fulfilled the roles of mother, wife and artist. For the press at the time, it was sometimes difficult to look beyond her womanhood. In reviews, she was characterised in the first place as a mother and a woman, dressed in patent-leather boots and blond wigs. Yet Ferdi managed to attract quite a lot of attention for her work. But her career came to an unexpected end with her untimely death. Her work is now part of important collections such as that of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
The exhibition New Nuances, women in and around Cobra will be opened on 11 July by Ingrid van Engelshoven, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Emancipation. The exhibition will be on view from 12 July (11 am). The exhibition has been realised thanks to the collaboration of:
Carl-Henning Pedersen & Else Alfelts Museum, Galerie Mikael Andersen, Ebbe Preisler Film/TV, Museum Belvédère, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Jianho Kwa, Yvonne Tuynman, Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Maria Austria Instituut, Collectie Karel van Stuijvenberg, Museum Het Valkhof, Rijksmuseum, Giotta Tajiri, Tanéa Tajiri, Ryu Tajiri, Galerie Raf van Severen, Collectie Joris Mees, Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie, Nederlands Fotomuseum, Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis, Rijksdienst Kunsthistorische Documentatie, Eye Filmmuseum, Rijksdienst Cultureel Erfgoed