Biography

Birgit Jürgenssen (b. 1949, Vienna, Austria; d. 2003, Vienna, Austria) was an important figure of the international feminist avant-garde. She was educated at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna (1968–1971) and first found success in 1975 when artist Valie Export invited her to participate in the exhibition, ‘MAGNA-Feminism: Art and Creativity’. Included in the show was Jürgenssen’s work Housewives’ Kitchen Apron (1975), in which she wore a sculpture of an apron in the shape an oven.

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An eloquent but radical counter to the male-dominated Viennese Actionism movement, Jürgenssen’s diverse body of work stretched across performance, photography, drawing and sculpture and was heavily autobiographical focusing on the female body and its transformation. She powerfully subverted the clichés of gender representation, social stereotyping, fetishism and forced domestication of women. Only recently her work has been rediscovered and acknowledged for its significance.

Attention towards Jürgenssen’s work has been consistently highlighted by Galerie Hubert Winter since 1981. Hubert Winter was entrusted with her Estate by the artist at the time of her premature death aged 54, in 2003. Monographs by Gabriele Schor and Abigail Solomon-Godeau have helped to educate the world on the breadth and importance of Jürgenssen’s practice.

Jürgenssen has had solo exhibition at Weserburg Museum of Modern Art, Bremen, Germany (2020); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (2019); GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy (2019); Kunsthalle Tübingen, Germany (2018); CODEX Berlin, Germany (2018); Kunst Meran Merano Arte, Vienna, Austria (2015); Bank Austria Kunstforum, Vienna (2010–11); Sammlung Verbund, Vienna (2009); and MAK, Museum for Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria (2004).

Her work has been included in group shows at Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, Germany (2021); Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (2020); Bündner Kunstmuseum, Chur, Switzerland (2019); Albertina Modern, Vienna, Austria (2020); Swiss Institute, New York, US (2019); Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Spain (2019); Kunshistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria (2018); Tate St Ives, UK (2018); La Monnaie de Paris, France (2017); MoMA Warsaw, Poland (2017); mumok, Vienna, Austria (2017); The Photographers’ Gallery, London, UK (2016); Centre Pompidou-Metz, France (2016); and Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany (2016).

Jürgenssen’s work has been acquired by major museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; MAK, Museum for Applied Arts, Vienna; Tate, London; and Centre Pompidou, Paris.

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Works

Untitled (Zipfel), 1967

Leather, fabric and chemical fertiliser
Height: 30 cm (11 3/4 in); diameter 13 cm (5 1/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

Schuhentwurf 4 (Shoe design 4), 1971

Pencil and coloured pencil on handmade paper
Unframed: 30 x 44 cm (11 3/4 x 17 3/8 in); framed: 62 x 82 cm (24 3/8 x 32 1/4 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

Ohne Titel (Untitled), 1975–76

Pencil and coloured pencil on handmade paper
Unframed: 44.9 x 31.4 cm (17 5/8 x 12 3/8 in); framed: 82 x 62 cm (32 1/4 x 24 3/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

‘Mädchen’ (Gold, Steinern, Rostiger Schuh) / ‘3 Girls’ (golden, stone, rusty shoe), 1976

Lifetime black and white photograph
Unframed: 20.2 x 28.9 cm (8 x 11 3/8 in); each: 38.4 x 46.3 cm (15 1/8 x 18 1/4 in) ???
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

Amazon (Mother and Child), 1974

Iron, lead and coloured photograph
112 x 21 x 24 cm (44 1/8 x 8 1/4 x 9 1/2 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

Housewives’ Kitchen Apron, 1975

Vintage black and white photograph
Unframed: 40 x 29.8 cm (15 3/4 x 11 3/4 in); framed: 60.5 x 79.5 cm (23 7/8 x 31 1/4 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

I Want Out of Here!, 1976

Black and white photograph
Unframed: 40 x 30 cm (15 3/4 x 11 3/4 in); framed: 57 x 48 cm (22 1/2 x 18 7/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

Untitled (Self with Little Fur), 1974–77

Lifetime colour photograph
Unframed: 18.1 x 13 cm (7 1/8 x 5 1/8 in); framed: 51.5 x 41.5 cm (20 1/4 x 16 3/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

Nest, 1979

Vintage black and white photograph
Unframed: 28.7 x 40 cm (11 x 16 in); framed: 52 x 62 x 3 cm (20 1/2 x 24 3/8 x 1 1/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

Untitled (Self with Skull), 1979

SX 70 Polaroid
Unframed: 10.5 x 8.7 cm (4 1/8 x 3 3/8 in); framed: 34 x 29 cm (13 3/8 x 11 3/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

Untitled, 1979/80

Lifetime black and white photograph, overpainted
Unframed: 39.5 x 29.5 cm (15 1/2 x 11 5/8 in); framed: 52 x 41 cm (20 1/2 x 16 1/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

10 Days – 100 Photos, 1980–81

Lifetime photographs and Polaroids, framed by the artist
Overall: 250 x 260 cm (98 3/8 x 102 3/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

Untitled, 1988

Colour photograph behind fabric
Overall, framed: 39 x 29.5 cm (15 3/8 x 11 5/8 in); each panel: 40 x 90 cm (15 3/4 x 35 3/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

Fingerlinge (Finger stalls), 1988

Lifetime colour photograph
Unframed: 37 x 25 cm (14 5/8 x 9 7/8 in); framed: 57.6 x 44.5 cm (22 5/8 x 17 1/2 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

Untitled, 1988

Lifetime colour photograph
Unframed: 20.2 x 27.6 cm (8 x 10 7/8 in); framed: 45.9 x 50.5 cm (18 1/8 x 19 7/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

Illumination, 1990

Slides, glass, steel and lamps
49.5 x 22.5 cm (19 1/2 x 8 7/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

Regal (Bookshelf for Raymond Chandler), 1990/91

Bookshelf, mixed media
214.8 x 127.4 x 15.2 cm (84 5/8 x 50 1/8 x 6 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

Untitled, 1988

Colour photograph behind fabric
Overall framed: 40.5 x 61 cm (16 x 24 1/8 in); each panel: 39 x 29.5 cm (15 3/8 x 11 5/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

Elevin, 1993

Vintage black and white photograph, tutu and golden shoes
172 x 53 x 20 cm (67 3/4 x 20 7/8 x 7 7/8 in); framed photograph: 44 x 30 cm (17 3/8 x 11 3/4 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

Rosemaries, 1996

Lifetime colour photographs
Individual: 105.1 x 72.1 cm (41 3/8 x 28 3/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna

  • Untitled (Zipfel), 1967
  • Schuhentwurf 4 (Shoe design 4), 1971
  • Ohne Titel (Untitled), 1975–76
  • ‘Mädchen’ (Gold, Steinern, Rostiger Schuh) / ‘3 Girls’ (golden, stone, rusty shoe), 1976
  • Amazon (Mother and Child), 1974
  • Housewives’ Kitchen Apron, 1975
  • I Want Out of Here!, 1976
  • Untitled (Self with Little Fur), 1974–77
  • Nest, 1979
  • Untitled (Self with Skull), 1979
  • Untitled, 1979/80
  • 10 Days – 100 Photos, 1980–81
  • Untitled, 1988
  • Fingerlinge (Finger stalls), 1988
  • Untitled, 1988
  • Illumination, 1990
  • Regal (Bookshelf for Raymond Chandler), 1990/91
  • Untitled, 1988
  • Elevin, 1993
  • Rosemaries, 1996

Press

Feminishism: Birgit Jürgenssen

Kasia Redzisz, Mousse

November 2019

Birgit Jürgenssen’s Challenge to Patriarchy

Steven Zultanski, Frieze

July 2019

Review: Birgit Jürgenssen, Alison Jacques Gallery

Skye Sherwin, ArtReview

June 2018

This Artist Turned Her Body into Domestic Appliances

Holly Black, AnOther

April 2018

Review: The Feminist Avant-Garde, Hamburger Kunsthalle

Niamh Coghlan, Aesthetica

April 2015

Review: Birgit Jürgenssen, Fergus Mccaffrey

Johanna Fateman, Artforum

December 2014

Review: Birgit Jürgenssen, Galerie Hubert Winter

Yuki Higashino, Frieze

April 2013

Review: Body I Am, Alison Jacques Gallery

Cherry Smyth, Art Monthly

March 2013

A Caged Bird Sings

Katrin Wolf, The Vienna Review

March 2011

Exhibitions

Birgit Jürgenssen: Nocturnal Light

17 April19 May 2018

Books

Female Trouble

Hatje Cantz

2021

Birgit Jürgenssen: I am.

Prestel

2018

Birgit Jürgenssen

Prestel

2010

Birgit Jürgenssen

Hatje Cantz

2009

Birgit Jürgenssen: Schuhwerk

MAK Wien

2004

Birgit Jürgenssen

Landesgalerie, Zürich

1998

News

Birgit Jürgenssen

in ‘The Way We Are 3.0’, Weserburg Museum of Modern Art Bremen

Birgit Jürgenssen

in ‘Feministische Avantgarde aus der Sammlung Verbund’, Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz

Birgit Jürgenssen

in ‘No Dandy, No Fun’, Kunsthalle Bern

Birgit Jürgenssen

in ‘The Beginning. Art in Austria, 1945 to 1980’, Albertina Modern Museum, Vienna

Birgit Jürgenssen, Ana Mendieta & Hannah Wilke

in ‘FEMINISMS!’, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona

Maria Bartuszová, Birgit Jürgenssen & Hannah Wilke

in ‘A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women’, Muzeum Susch, Switzerland

Birgit Jürgenssen

in ‘Images of Women?’, Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien, Vienna

Birgit Jürgenssen: Ich bin.

Kunsthalle Tübingen

Birgit Jürgenssen

in ‘Faith Love Hope’, Kunsthaus Graz, Austria

Birgit Jürgenssen

in ‘The Shape of Time’, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Maria Bartuszová, Birgit Jürgenssen, Michelle Stuart, Dorothea Tanning & Hannah Wilke

in ‘Virginia Woolf’, Tate St Ives, Cornwall

Birgit Jürgenssen

in ‘Women House’, Monnaie de Paris