The international Cobra movement (1948-51) was based on openness, equality, collaboration and community with the goal of employing art to unite the world after the divisive conflicts of the Second World War. Yet Cobra comes across as an all-male club whose gender composition has been taken for granted over the years
Today, in fact, the men emerge as the leading players in one of Europe’s most influential 20th-century art movements, despite the fact that a large number of women artists played a significant role in Cobra’s development. They did so through their participation in major exhibitions and artists’ groups such as Linien Iand II, Helhesten and Høst, where they contributed to the experimental and spontaneous-abstract expression that became an essential precondition for Cobra.
Of the more than 45 artists who were directly involved in Cobra, only two women – Sonja Ferlov Mancoba and Else Alfelt – are recognised as true Cobra artists. All the other women artists have been forgotten or written out of history.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the disbandment of the Cobra movement. It may seem remarkable, therefore, that there has been no previous Danish study of Cobra in terms of gender.
The exhibition juxtaposes works by 19 Danish and foreign artists altogether; they were in no way inferior to their male colleagues in terms of artistic skills and others could easily have been included. Several of the artists will be largely unknown to the public. Some of them were official members of the Cobra movement; a few were rejected; several worked in the shadow of their husbands; while others hovered on the periphery but formed part of the international avant-garde artists’ community and network around Cobra.
With the exhibition CoBrA, Museum Jorn aims to explore the roles and conditions of women artists in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s as well as the structures and criteria that led to their position in relation to Cobra.
The following artists are represented on the exhibition:
Else Alfelt (Denmark), Grete Balle(Denmark), Inge Bendixen (Denmark), Kujahn Blask (Germany/Denmark), Christine Boumeester (France), Ferdi (Netherland), Sonja Ferlov Mancoba (Denmark), Else Fischer-Hansen (Denmark), Elna Fonnesbech-Sandberg (Denmark), Lotti van der Gaag (Netherland), Anneliese Hager (GErmany), Mille Heerup (Denmark), Frieda Hunziker (Netherland), Madeleine Kemény-Szemere (Switzerland/Hungary), Grete-Inge Petersen (Denmark), Henny Riemens (Netherland), Agnete Therkildsen (Denmark), Anna Thommesen (Denmark) og Dora Tuynman (Netherland).
The exhibnition is supported by:
Knud Højgaards Fond, Arne V. Schlechs Fond, Augustinus Fonden, the New Carlsberg Foundation and Aage and Johanne Louis Hansens. Jyske Bank is main sponsor for Museum Jorn.
Grete Inge Petersen
Uden titel, 1940
Sonja Ferlov Mancoba
Woman and a Bird, 1946
Else Fischer Hansen