The exhibition “Battle of the Sexes: Franz von Stuck to Frida Kahlo” will shed light on the artistic investigation of gender roles from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of World War II. The traditional definition of male and female as active/passive, rational/emotional, culture/nature was heavily debated in modern art: many artists presented their viewers with overstated gender characteristics and cemented stereotypical role models in their works. Others challenged established clichés and endeavoured to subvert them with strategies such as irony, exaggeration, masquerade and blending. Featuring a selection of some 150 works of painting, sculpture, graphic art, photography and film, the large-scale exhibition project aims to single out the especially concise artistic positions and open up a dialogue between them.
The show will draw from the Städel Museum holdings which – with paintings by Max Liebermann, Edvard Munch and Franz von Stuck, sculptures by Auguste Rodin and photographs by Frank Eugene, Man Ray and others – include important works on the subject. With the additional aid of important loans, the presentation will place works by well-known names in art history – for example Gustave Moreau, Édouard Manet, Gustav Klimt, Otto Dix, Meret Oppenheim or Frida Kahlo – side by side with discoveries that expand the canon with the strong outlooks of such artists as Leonor Fini, Jeanne Mammen, Rudolf Jettmar or Gustav Adolf Mossa. Against the background of the intense discussion on the topic and the constantly evolving roles of woman and man, the project will offer insights into the complexity of gender issues and shed light on the art historical dimension of a highly relevant socio-politic subject.