Neue Frau - Lévy Gorvy
Installation view of Jutta Koether's painting Neue Frau

Detail view of Jutta Koether's painting Neue Frau

Neue Frau


Oil on canvas
133 7/8 x 82 11/16 inches (340 x 210 cm)

Neue Frau (2019) conveys Koether’s vision of the “new woman”: a concept with a rich legacy among avant-garde artists, who sought to unite art and life, revolutionizing both in the process. Its composition is based on a street mural of trailblazing politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—a model for its titular figure—which Koether sourced from a photograph in a German newspaper. Set on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the scene features found graffiti—“Skin Chroma Beata!”—and a looping garland. A frequent presence in Koether’s recent paintings, the garland functions as a cipher: a form, manifest in a myriad of cultural artifacts, from Roman wall paintings to Flemish Baroque still lifes, that lacks a fixed meaning. Floating in space, it thematizes suspension, its significance constantly shifting as it moves among contexts—an allegory, perhaps, for Koether’s practice. In Neue Frau, the garland, rendered in a range of modulated blues, is echoed by a smaller, spiraling ribbon within the space of the mural. This doubling, together with Neue Frau’s photographic source, raises questions of representation, recalling the viewer to the ways in which reality is never innocent but always mediated. Prismatic and complex, the scene bespeaks renewal: a sense captured by the delicate yet resilient plant that sprouts from concrete before Ocasio-Cortez’s likeness. Embracing pendent meanings—and the anxiety that such semantic irresolution may provoke—Neue Frau looks forward to unforeseen possibilities.


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