Found under the heading ‘The ABC of Women,’ nineteen women feature across a double page spread, some appearing to pose for a portrait sketch, others following activities such as dancing, painting, giving manicures or milking a cow. Dressed in clothing that varies from folk costumes to turn-of-the-century reform dress, sportswear, show costumes and fashionable fur coats, they come from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds, are of different ages and follow different professions. The cartoon depicts numerous possibilities of what women could look like in the early 1930s, playing with stereotypes in a good-humoured and non-malicious manner.
The inclusion of lesser-known modernisms into art history at large also calls for the introduction of lesser-known artists, and it is often left to smaller, regional galleries to take on this task and produce the groundwork. The recent exhibition Herbert Ploberger: At the Interface between Fine and Applied Art at the Upper Austrian regional gallery in Linz can be understood precisely in this light.
Herbert Ploberger (1902-1977) was one of Austria’s main representatives of New Objectivity painting (Neue Sachlichkeit), a movement that developed in reaction to Expressionism in 1920s Weimar Germany. Stripping paintings bare of personal feeling and emotion, artists of the New Objectivity forged a hyperreality that often bordered on caricature for its brutal and unforgiving depictions of modern life. Continue reading