Masterly women*

*Ten avant-garde artists that are a must see.

15 June 2019 to 8 September 2019

The world of art is still a boys club. Only 13% of the art in Dutch museums is made by women according to research by Mama Cash.


No matter how famous some women were, after their death they were written out of art history. A tremendous amount turned into oblivion. The exhibition Masterly women changes that. There, it is a 100% women.

Pioneers and artists from now

We have put the spotlight on ten Dutch artists from the first half of the 20th century. These pioneers are must sees We connect these avant-garde from the past to female artists from now. With Masterly women we start with the women’s suffrage that was implemented a 100 years ago. In Schiedam, the first woman, Elisabeth Koeten-Ooms (1888-1968) was elected into city council as well a 100 years ago. She represented the Social Democrat Labor Party.

Stained glass

Masterly women consists of works from professional artists that are important to a certain movement. Four of those are represented in the collection of Stedelijk Museum Schiedam. The emphasis is on the period 1915-1960. This yields a varied image with stained glass windows from Jacoba van Heemskerck, stylized paintings from Lou Loeber and realistic portraits from Charley Toorop. By connecting this generation to modern artists, they are brought back alive, says guest curator Trudi van Zadelhoff. You can also see how the artists are on the shoulders of their pioneering predecessors.

Why don’t we know these women?

Why do we not know these women any more or not very well? A radical answer comes from the Guerilla Girls, an international group that has been asking for attention about gender inequality in the art world for a few decades now. They say that the deficit is caused by white, western, rich men who dominate the industry. They are not just museum directors, art buyers or philanthropists, but also historians. Of course there are other factors. For centuries women were treated differently than men. It already started with the education. Until the end of the 19th century women were refused enrollment.

Willingsness is everything

Once the door was open to female students, they were for a long time not allowed to participate in model drawing. Even not when the model hid his or her private parts behind a cloth. Added to that was women could not win any awards. Only in 1899 a woman was awarded the Prix de Rome, the most important Dutch state price. Which at that time already existed for almost a hundred years. Then there were other obstacles. Women were not supposed to excel. Modestly they served men and children. This made the artist’s life difficult, because it required stubbornness and determination, qualities that were long considered typically masculine. Thus, it wasn’t so crazy that Charley Toorop said: ‘Willingness is everything’.

Participating artists

Charley Toorop (1891-1955) and ​​​Marlene Dumas (1953) / Adya van Rees – Dutilh (1876-1959) and ​​Barbara Broekman (1955) / Jacoba van Heemskerck (1876-1923) and ​​Nicky Assmann (1980) / Lou Loeber (1894-1983) and ​​​Marjolein Witte (1979) / Fré Cohen​​​ (1903-1943) and Joyce Overheul (1989) / Eva Besnyö​​​ (1910-2003) and Robin de Puy (1986) / Nola Hatterman (1899-1984) and ​​Raquel van Haver (1989) / Alida Pott​​​ (1888-1931) and Jessica Skowroneck (1989) / Lotti van der Gaag (1923-1999) and ​​Maartje Korstanje (1982) / Frieda Hunziker​​​ (1908-1966) and Liselore Frowijn (1991)

Thanks are due to

The exhibition is suitably on display in what used to be the women’s wings of the Sint Jacobs Gasthuis. The building was put in use in 1787. Since 1940 the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam is established there.





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