National Museum of Women in the Arts
Ulrike Rosenbach
1943 - present
Photograph of Ulrike Rosenbach by Dietlinde Stroh, courtesy of the artist
Place of Birth:
Bad Salzdetfurth
Phonetic Spelling:
OOL-ree-keh RHOH-zehn-bahr
Work Type/Media:
Multimedia (electronic, digital, video, film), Performance Art , Sculpture
Artistic Role(s):
Filmmaker, Installation Artist, Multimedia Artist, Performance Artist, Sculptor, Video Artist
Conceptual Art, Feminist Art, Other
Artist's Biography:
Ulrike Rosenbach was a pioneer of artistic video production that began in the 1970s. She was born in Bad Salzdetfurth, West Germany in 1943 and between 1964 and 1969, she studied sculpture as a master student of Joseph Beuys, at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. After graduation, Rosenbach created a series of work entitled Hauben für eine verheiratete Frau (Bonnets for a Married Woman). Rosenbach was influenced by the elaborate headdresses married women wore in the Middle Ages, as they were an essential part of their wardrobe and a symbol of their morality and virtue. This series was a precursor to the video-performance Rosenbach would later author.

Rosenbach traveled extensively in the United States in the early 1970s and was asked by John Baldessari to teach at the California Institute for the Arts in Valencia in 1975, where she taught Video and Feminist Art. Also in 1975, Rosenbach co-founded Alternative Television (ATV), with Cologne based artists Marcel Odenbach and Klaus vom Bruch. ATV was an innovative endeavor set up to bring private arts television to the public but its success was hindered by the lack of support from television stations in Germany. In 1976, Rosenbach founded the Schule für Kreativen Feminismus (School for Creative Feminism) in Cologne, in an effort to bring women artists together to discuss their work, ideas, and experiences. The school was a thriving outlet for women artists until its closing in 1980.

During the early 1970s, Rosenbach began using video in conjunction with performance art. She was one of the first women to adopt the use of video production, a relatively new art form that had not yet been gender labeled. Many of her video-performance works subvert the idea of woman as subject and their representation in art and also address a woman’s search for identity. In one such work, Don’t Believe I’m an Amazon (1975), Rosenbach superimposed her face over Stefan Lochner’s Gothic painting Madonna of the Rose Bush (ca. 1450). Rosenbach, dressed in a white body suit is shown methodically shooting fifteen arrows into the superimposed images. By ‘taking a shot’ at Lochner’s Madonna, considered one of the most iconic Madonnas in art history, Rosenbach takes aim at the patronizing concept of feminine purity. She challenges the notion that any woman can be reduced to a single stereotype and instead shows that women encompass a variety of characteristics.

Rosenbach has been a professor at Hochschule der Bildende Künste Saar in Saarbrucken, Germany since 1989 and was granted emeritus status in July of 2007. Rosenbach continues to work as a freelance artist in Cologne and Saarland, Germany.

Other Occupation(s):
Feminist, Founder, Instructor, Lecturer, Professor
Place(s) of Residence:
Place(s) of Activity:
Western Front, Vancouver, BC
Where Trained/Schools:
Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf, Germany (1964-1969)
Related Visual Artists:
student of Joseph Beuys colleague of John Baldessari colleague of Marcel Odenbach colleague of Klaus vom Bruch collaborated with Hildegard Weber
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Gabriele Münter Preis, Federal Republic of Germany, Berlin, Germany (2006) Kunstpreis des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken, Germany (1996) Förderpreis des Landes, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany (1977)
Earliest exhibition:
Ulrike Rosenbach, Galerie Ernst, Hanover, Germany (1972)
NMWA exhibition(s):
WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution
The First Generation: Women and Video, 1970-75
Artist retrospective(s):
Retrospective exhibition of Ulrike Rosenbach's media art works, Pixel Gallery, Budapest, Hungary (2006) Ulrike Rosenbach: Die einsame Spaziergängerin, Altes Rathaus, Göttingen, Germany (1998) Ulrike Rosenbach: Video, Performance, Installation 1972-1989, Art Gallery of York University and Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada (1989)