Ursula: That’s Me. So What?
Stephan Diederich (Ed)
Walther Koenig, 2023
New book on the work of Ursula Schultze-Bluhm.
Ursula’s life and work offer an unconventional narrative of artistic independence. Her art exemplifies the idea that Surrealism is not a style, but an attitude. Ursula subverted reality and found the uncanny in the everyday, challenging the authorities of society and art by imagining new worlds in which old hierarchies are thrown overboard and new ways of life are conceivable. Ursula shared this utopian imagination with artists such as Leonora Carrington, Leonor Fini, Dorothea Tanning, and Unica Zürn.
It is impossible to unambiguously categorize the essence of Ursula’s works. Terms such as naive painting, Surrealism, or individual mythology only touch on individual aspects of her unorthodox visual ideas, which always convey an intensely sensual experience. As early as 1954, Jean Dubuffet integrated works by her into his Musée de l’Art Brut. Like André Breton, Dubuffet appreciated the unconventional narrative style of her texts and pictures, which—at least on first glance—seem to stand outside of time. While they often refer to mythology, they usually reflect the artist’s own emotional states, fears, and obsessions. “I impose my visions on reality—I am completely artificial,” Ursula declared, characterizing her unusual parallel worlds in which extravagant characters exist and the familiar and the uncanny are perceptible. Beauty and transience, the fairy-like and the monstrous, thrive side by side. One of Ursula’s characteristic subjects was Pandora, the woman who was created from clay in Greek mythology, in whose story the most terrible evils and the most excellent gifts are inseparably intertwined. Ursula’s scenes are frequently inhabited by fantastical hybrid creatures, and the allure of transformation is tangible everywhere, challenging time-worn dualisms such as woman/man and human/nature.
Published on occasion of the exhibition ‘Ursula—That’s Me. So What?’, 18 Mar – 23 July 2023, Museum Ludwig.