The cover features an early work by Jutta Koether, a central figure in the recent history of painting and the subject of a survey exhibition opening later this month at Museum Brandhorst, Munich. Since the 1980s, Koether has engaged in an intimate “battle” against painterly tradition, developing a defiant artistic practice able to sketch out a counterhistory of the modernist, male-dominated and heteronormative canon.
As Kerstin Stakemeier writes in one of the contributions to the twenty-page dossier dedicated to Koether that this issue also features, “Koether does not legitimize herself against painterly tradition, but rather lets its accumulated unmodernness come to her.” Stakemeier discusses Koether’s practice in the gendered and art-historical afterlife of mannerism, underlining the artist’s agenda to reconfigure her references “under female competence.” “Koether’s application of painting history ‘under female competence’ changes its societal position entirely,” Stakemeier concludes.
Koether and Flash Art In addition to an article by Quinn Latimer considering Koether’s novella f., the dossier includes a reprint of one of Koether’s many contributions to Flash Art. In “Pure Invention,” first published in the April 1986 issue of the magazine, Koether reflects on a group of her female artist peers who have defied the status quo—from Georgia O’Keeffe to Cindy Sherman, from Jenny Holzer to Rosemarie Trockel. “Women artists are obsessively afraid of being understood as just that, as women artists,” Koether writes. “Often they prefer to lurk anonymously and mutely in isolation, considering intervention in history as a burden. It isn’t their history anyway.” Countering what she calls the “embarrassing and sick excesses of self-recrimination” of 1970s feminist art, Koether invites women artists to “speak up” by developing creative strategies that transcend a discourse of self with pure artistic invention. In Koether’s vision for female art “defensiveness is forbidden.”