1940 – 2018 / German painter
Dichgans, born in 1940 in Berlin and raised in Düsseldorf, studied with Fred Thieler among others, moved to New York in the 1960s on invitation from the DAAD. She was one of the pioneering female figures of Pop Art with her meticulously expressive still lifes of mountains of toys and mass-produced goods.
Christa Dichgans had been living in a world dominated by men. The artist herself explains her role at the time: “In the 1960s, no man felt threatened by me. Men thought I was pretty and frightening, but they didn’t take my art seriously”. From the early 1960s, long before the feminist avant-garde polarised art and the media in the 1970s and focused on overcoming female stereotypes, Christa Dichgans was concerned with the conventional post-war realm of women, closely linked to clichés about gender roles, domestic work and child-rearing.
In the Robert series, dedicated to Dichgans’ young son (born in 1963), it is particularly the child’s bedroom that is transformed into a treasure trove of motifs from which the artist draws abundantly. Having given birth to her son while still a student, her parental and artistic aspirations inevitably intertwined, and it was when her son was born that she began to look into toys. It is striking that the artist turned to everyday objects and personal items of everyday use, which are distinguished by their discretion. The paintings depict scenes from the daily lives of her son and herself, as she navigated the art world of the time and charted her own course as an artist, young woman and mother.
Dichgans began creating paintings of outstanding independence and artistic quality in the first half of the 1960s. Her early works, which remained in the shadows for a long time, already bore the seeds of a pictorial approach that was to make the artist one of the most important figures in German Pop Art. Throughout her career as an artist, Christa Dichgans’ works were marked by two things: the representation of reality and its condensation in paint. Dichgans’ pictorial expression had to develop accordingly: it was not free and unfettered, but largely subject to reality. This ambivalence is precisely what marked her rise to the status of grande dame of German pop art, a title that was unfortunately not granted to her until the end of her life.
In recent years, Christa Dichgans has established herself as an emblematic figure of European Pop Art thanks to group exhibitions at the Musée d’art moderne in Nice, the Kunsthalle in Kiel and the Kunsthalle in Vienna.
Christa Dichgans died in Berlin in 2018.