july 20, 2021 - National gallery of Denmark

The women of art speak out: 100 years of art as arms and armour

In this year's major autumn exhibition, SMK – the national gallery of Denmark – turns the spotlight onto some of art history's prominent women artists. Taking the women's liberation movement in the 1970s as its springboard, the show explores how women have used art to create change in the world over the last hundred years.

In the 1970s, an entire generation of women made a strong mark on art history after many years of silence. They made art that engaged directly with topical issues and the public debate. They created new narratives and new political agendas. They spoke out and they made things happen.

We are only now beginning to fully realise what this movement has meant for the following generations and which artists set the scene and did the groundwork that sowed the seeds for it.

With the exhibition After the silence – women of art speak out, SMK sheds new light on a number of women artists who, with both compassion and combat-ready resistance, have created important and influential works fuelled by a sense of social and political commitment.

The show takes its starting point in the 50th anniversary of the Danish Redstocking movement and the 1970s pioneering struggles and dreams of a more peaceful, more equal and freer world. From here, the exhibition goes back another fifty years in time and fifty years ahead, showing how women artists engaged with thorny issues of society before then and how art is still used to express resistance and criticism today.

Sensuous experiences and unique reconstructions
Presenting works that feature everything from melting letters and monumental tapestries to sound and video works, installation art, paintings, prints, clay tablets and a hovering airplane, After the silence women of art speak out is a powerful, poignant, richly layered exhibition.

All in all, visitors can explore more than 130 works by eighteen women artists from Denmark and abroad, all of them moving, shaking, provoking and confronting their viewers. With their art, they delve unflinchingly into major political themes of the past and the present, paving the way for new perspectives and new approaches to current topics such as war, climate, gender, colonialism, class divisions and capitalism.

Several of the works and installations have not been on public display since they were originally exhibited. These include Lene Adler Petersen's installation The Things, Your History, Free Yourself from the Things (1976) and Kirsten Christensen's My Mother and Me (1978), now presented to the public for the first time since the 1970s thanks to close collaboration between the artists and SMK.

Further information in the press release to download

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