17 May until 18 August 2019
Against Invisibility
Women Designers at the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau, 1898 to 1938

With the founding of the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau in 1898, Dresden joined Munich as a centre of the international reform movement, especially with respect to innovative design. The opening was duly noted, but what was largely unknown was that the Deutsche Werkstätten were also open to women as artistic collaborators, unusual for the turn of the century. It is largely thanks to Karl Schmidt’s (1873–1948) commitment to the reform movement that, immediately after he founded his enterprise, a large number of women were enlisted as designers, with their products marketed under their own names. Against Invisibility: Women Designers at the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau, 1898 to 1938 (an exhibition organized by the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden) presents for the first time 18 women designers and a product photographer who worked for the Deutsche Werkstätten in the early 20th century. The exhibition, which will be on view at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) from 17 May 2019, brings to light designers who have been forgotten over the years despite their busy design and teaching activities, numerous exhibitions, and successful participation in competitions. These were women who worked as furniture designers, although often trained only as drawing teachers –in general at this time without a university entrance qualification. Women who disrupted traditional social roles and gained new autonomy and self-determination in their everyday professional and social lives by pursuing a field previously reserved for men. Women who not only made a vital contribution to the success of the fledgling workshops but also decisively advanced the reform movement in Germany.

Their works could already be found on display at an early stage primarily in public museums or sample collections explicitly devoted to current trends in design and decorative arts. MKG, too, collected contemporary art as well as applied graphic art and poster art from the very beginning, acquiring advertising graphics by Gertrud Kleinhempel (1875–1948), Änne Koken (1885–1919), Clara Möller-Coburg (1869–1918), and other women designers. MKG will thus supplement the exhibition with several works that are closely linked to the museum.

An exhibition for: Hamburger Architektursommer 2019.

photo: Girls’ class taught by Prof. Margarete Junge at the Kunstgewerbeschule Dresden, 1911, Archive of the Academy of Fine Arts Dresden, stock picture archive, signed 08.01/00015