Annegret Soltau


Annegret Soltau

Annegret Soltau‘s work has been considered fundamental for the development of experimental and performative art of the 70s and 80s. She has often been appointed as an important reference for the feminist art of that early period. Recently, her work was included in “Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution”, the first comprehensive, historical exhibition to examine the international foundations and legacy of feminist art, organized in 2007 by Moca in LA, and presented also at the MoMA PS1 in New York (2008) and the Vancouver Art Gallery (2009).

Annegret Soltau’s main interest is in the integration of body processes in her work, in order to connect body and spirit and treat them as equal components. Always departing from a private performance and photos of herself, the artist creates photomontages of her own body and face sewn over or collaged with black thread. „Selbst/ Self“(1975-76) started with a series of wrapping actions, in which Soltau tied both single people as well as entire groups with a strong black thread. The thread is sewn like filigree webs across her face and exerts a delicate tension; the result is very sophisticated and beautiful. Exploring issues related with female identity, these works are among the most well-known of this German artist and performer.

In Soltau’s own words “Permanente Demonstration“(19.1.1976 and 23.1.1976) is “an attempt to trigger states of consciousness through realization of an image in real life, i.e. make an image physically. The line, becomes a realized line, the person is part of the picture. Line and person are not two opposite things but a single reality”.

The work serves no useful purpose and seeks more than a purely aesthetic pleasure. The artist understands it more like a process to re-unite consciousness and unconsciousness.

Annegret Soltau aims mainly to work intuitively, and thus achieve a sort of “self-forgetting”. She is interested in immediately perceptible experiences, as she feels that as soon as we reflect and form concepts, the original is lost and so we become limited by fixed ideas and concepts.

The photo-erasures “Ich schlafend doppelt” (1977/2004) and “Ich Wartend” (1977) both deal with her two pregnancies from 1978-80, as the artist was interested in documenting the deep impact which carrying a child had on her body and life. She feared for her artistic career as she knew from other artist colleagues, that a pregnancy could jeopardize one’s artistic career. From this intense examination resulted many video works, in which Soltau reflects upon her own pregnant body. She testifies how this experience has brought her closer to her own body.

In this period Soltau developed the idea of working the photos further, she wanted to get more out of these shots, as she didn’t want to leave them as pure documenting material. In this sense, she began to work the negatives with a needle. She scratched the surface of the negatives to a point of pure blackness, complete destruction sometimes.

To the initial singular photos followed big format photo-tableaux, in which she applied the same technique. The work with the needle generates intense black areas, which can go as far as “total” erasure.

Video links:

Discussion between Annegret Soltau and Ute Gahlings at the Literaturhaus Darmstadt

Das Konzept ICH. Annegret Soltau finissage 15.03.2017

Das Konzept ICH. Annegret Soltau vernissage 07.02.2017

Interview with Annegret Soltau. 2016

01.10.2021 – 06.02.2022
Kunsthalle Mannheim
Friedrichsplatz 4
68165 Mannheim

22.05.2021 – December 2021
imPERFEKT – Eine Ausstellung zur Barrierefreiheit
MEWO Kunsthalle
Bahnhofstraße 1
87700 Memmingen

21.04.2021 – 29.08.2021
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Gl. Strandvej 13
DK-3050 Humlebæk

Browse Annegret Soltau’s work in the CP collection
Website Centre Georges Pompidou 

22.05.2021 – December 2021
Opening exhibition
Haus des Papiers
Seydelstraße 30
10117 Berlin

03.02.2021 – 20.03.2021
birthday exhibition
Galerie Anita Beckers
Braubachstraße 9
60311 Frankfurt am Main

19.07.2019 – 01.12.2019
Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s
Works from the SAMMLUNG VERBUND Collection
Montalegre, 5
ES-08001 Barcelona

16.06.2019 – 11 pm
Orangerie im Günthersburgpark 
Commeniusstraße 39
60389 Frankfurt am Main

26.06.2019 – 6 pm
Lecture / Die vernähte Frau
Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst
Wächterstraße 11 – Raum 2.41
04107 Leipzig

29.06.2019 – 27.10.2019
Cut and Paste – 400 Years of Collage
Schottish National Gallery of Modern Art
75 Belford Road
GB-Edinburgh, EH4 3DR

08.02.2019 – 28.04.2019
YOUR MIRROR – Portraits from the ICP Collection
International Centre of Photography
250 Bowery
NY 10012 New York

26.01.2019 – 19.05.2019
Hauptsache Kopf
Kunsthalle Emden
Leutkirchstraße 63
77723 Gengenbach

12.12.2018 – 24.02.2019
Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s
Works from the SAMMLUNG VERBUND Collection, Vienna at Stavanger Art Museum
The Brno House of Arts
Malinovského nám. 2
CZ-60200 Brno

100 Heroines

selected by the Royal Photographic Society of London for the celebration of the centenary of women’s suffrage

Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s
Works from the SAMMLUNG VERBUND Collection, Vienna at Stavanger Art Museum
Stavanger Art Museum
Henrik Ibsens gate 55
4021 Stavanger

16.06.2018 – 16.07.2018
Works by Christiane Feser, Igor Simic and Annegret Soltau will be presented in the exhibition Un-Mensch-Antastbar, curated by Ulrike Lehmann.
Aliseo Art Projects
Leutkirchstraße 63
77723 Gengenbach

18.11.2017 – 08.04.2018
Feministische Avantgarde der 1970er Jahre
ZKM Karlsruhe I Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe 
Lorenzstraße 19
76135 Karlsruhe

17.11.2017 – 11.03.2018
Aging Pride
Belvedere Museum Wien
Prinz Eugen-Straße 27
1030 Wien

07.02.2018 – 12.05.2018
INSIDE OUT – Fotografie und Psychologie
Platz der Republik
60265 Frankfurt am Main
Eingang: Cityhaus I
Öffentliches Parkhaus „Westend“

29.09.2017 – 18.02.2018
Silberglanz. Von der Kunst des Alters
Landesmuseum Hannover
Willy-Brandt-Allee 5
30169 Hannover


published in German and English
108 pages and 23  images
ISBN 978-3-940179-34-0 (English 2018)
Annegret Soltau: Ich war total suchend – erzählt von Baldur Greiner
ISBN 978-3-940179-17-3 (German 2013)
published by: Weststadt Verlag

April 2021

“Mir geht es gut, ich arbeite”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Katinka Fischer, 27.03.2020

Women Look at Women: A New Show About 1970s Art Pioneers
AnOther Magazine
Jack Moss, 13.02.2018