Birgit Jürgenssen (b.1949, Vienna, Austria; d. 2003, Vienna, Austria) was an important figure of the international feminist avant-garde. Jürgenssen was educated at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna (1968-1971) followed by her first success in 1975 when the artist Valie Export invited her to participate in the exhibition, MAGNA-Feminism: Art and Creativity. Shown at this exhibition was Jürgenssen's work Housewives' Kitchen Apron (1975) in which she wore a sculpture of an apron in the shape an oven. An eloquent but radical counter to the male-dominated Viennese Actionism movement, Jürgenssen's diverse body of work stretched across performance, photography, drawing and sculpture and was heavily autobiographical focusing on the female body and its transformation. She powerfully subverted the clichés of gender representation, social stereotyping, fetishism and forced domestication of women. Only recently her work has been rediscovered and acknowledged for its significance.
Attention towards Jürgenssen's work has been consistently highlighted by Galerie Hubert Winter since 1981. Hubert Winter was entrusted with her Estate by the artist at the time of her premature death aged 54, in 2003. Monographs by Gabriele Schor and Abigail Solomon-Godeau have helped to educate the world on the breadth and importance of Jürgenssen's practice and several retrospectives including MAK, Museum for Applied Arts, Vienna (2004); Sammlung Verbund, Vienna (2009); and the Bank Austria Kunstforum, Vienna (2010-11) have continued to highlight the importance of her work. In 2018, a major retrospective of the artist's work, Birgit Jürgenssen: Ich bin., opened at the Kunsthalle Tübingen, Germany before travelling to GAMeC Museum, Bergamo, Italy (2019) and Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark (2019).
Notable group shows include The Shape of Time, curated by Jasper Sharp, Kunshistorisches Museum, Vienna (2018); Virginia Woolf: An Exhibition Inspired By Her Writings, curated by Laura Smith, Tate St Ives, UK (2018); Women House, curated by Camille Morineau, La Monnaie de Paris (2017), andThe Beguiling Siren is Thy Crest, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw (2017).
Jürgenssen's work has been acquired by major museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; MAK, Museum for Applied Arts, Vienna; Tate, London; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.