The New Woman in the Singer Laren Museum

From September 13, 2022 to January 8, 2023, Singer Laren presents the exhibition De Nieuwe Vrouw. The central theme is how the changing social positions of women have been reflected in Dutch art from the end of the 19th century. We follow how women were portrayed by both female and male artists, against the background of advancing emancipation. The focus is on art from 1880-1950, supplemented by contemporary art that invites reflection on the present. The paintings and drawings on display attest to female strength, talent, perseverance and beauty, by Charley Toorop, Iris Kensmil, Marlene Dumas, Jan Sluijters, Iris Kensmil, Lou Loeber, Eva Besnyö, Isaac Israels, Helen Verhoeven, Thérèse Schwartze, Rineke, and others. Dijkstra and Leo Gestel. 

Up the barricades
On the eve of the twentieth century, there is unrest in society. Women are revolting against their disadvantaged position and are increasingly moving into traditionally ‘masculine’ fields. They want the right to vote and a paid job. They throw off their cramped corsets and exchange their knitting for the bicycle, the tennis racket or the dance bar. The emancipated woman in her many manifestations initially shakes the existing order to its foundations. She receives a lot of criticism, especially from those who are not keen on radical changes in the standard male-female relations.

New female images
The spotlight is on the modern woman in a wide variety of forms. We see women who go up the barricades, enter new fields of work, create masterpieces, build collections, light a cigarette, stroll with their short haircut or jump on a bicycle. Women who – time and again – challenge the ideas of what is typically ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ at that time, who break with conventions and fight for their right to make their own choices. From proponents of women’s suffrage around 1900 to champions of the sexual liberation of women in the 1970s, and from the first female nurses to early art collectors and museum directors.