Elvira Bach, born in 1951 in Bad Neuenhain, Germany, studied under Hann Trier at the Berlin University of the Arts between 1972 and 1978. Associated with the “Junge Wilde” movement, and after receiving an invitation to Documenta 7 in 1982, she quickly gained national and international recognition, becoming one of Germany’s most well-known painters of her generation and a pioneer in Germany in expressing female sexuality and desire within her works. Bach’s work focuses on the empowerment of women through her iconic Neo-Expressionist female paintings and self-portraits.
At Frieze New York Galerie Kornfeld presents rare early works made between 1978 and 1985, of which some have never before been shown. Among these paintings are arguably her most well-known works including Badeanzüge, featured in Documenta 7 in 1982. The selection of work focuses on her depiction of the “Neue Frau”, a new emancipated woman, an idea explored in the 1980’s and influencing many artists of a younger generation.
Her works present women in all their human facets, in their power and strength, as well as vulnerability and fragility; but always and foremost, as autonomous and independent individuals. Bach put women center stage, gave them broad shoulders and large hands, adorning them with sensuality and strength, turning her paintings into beacons of feminine power. From 1978 onward, Bach created her first “self portraits”, her trademark then and now. In these pieces, she explores a particular existential phenomenon that would appear throughout the entirety of her work: the Self in all its ambivalence. This was not only an examination of the private and personal, but also in reference to the archetypal “Daughters of Eve”. Passion, joy, misery, sorrow, fear, or loneliness reflect in her work, walking a tightrope between disguise and self-revelation. Whether as Femme Fatale or snake charmer, this fascinating mix of melancholy and irony, erotic and exotic, is unmistakably Elvira Bach.
Bach continues to create sensual and energetic paintings, most of them in flamboyant colors and using an expressive visual language till this day. Her work challenges notions of gender and the expectations of women both in the past and today. The re-evaluation of feminine strength seems both timely and significant in the current social and political climate of our times; challenging normative depictions of women in both media and society. In this world, her women are like anchors, and the oeuvre of Elvira Bach is as contemporary as it ever was. Social networks and political change have put the individual and one’s needs into particular question.
Her work has been shown in numerous exhibitions, including prominent museums and collections such as the Guggenheim in New York, the Frankfurter Kunstkabinett, the Bayerisches Landesmuseum, and the Museum in Landerneau, France.