Lisette Kohlhagen

Lisette Kohlhagen (b. 20th Dec 1890 – d. 2nd Feb, 1969 Adelaide)

Kohlhagen was a key artist in the South Australian female artists movement of the 1930s and 1940s. Her deco inspired printed works were South Australia’s response to the works of Thea Proctor and Margaret Preston in NSW. She studied at the South Australian School of Arts under L. Wilkie ad Gwen Barringer. Then, in the 1920s, with South Australian Artist James Ashton, the father of Will Ashton and the man who is credited with teaching and encouraging Hans Heysen to paint. Kohlhagen travelled to London to further her studies at the Royal Drawing Society in 1926-7 and won gold and bronze medals for her work

After her trip abroad, she studied in Sydney under Adelaide Perry and later Maude Sherwood, Dorrit Black and George Bell

Her contribution to Art in Australia was significant. She exhibited with, and was a founding member of, the NSW Contemporary Art Society which promoted contemporary works around Australia and was the first contemporary art movement to embrace female artistic endeavor. With Dorrit Black she also encouraged creative expression for females by founding Group 9.

Her work is represented in the National Gallery of Australia and the Art Gallery of South Australia.


Bio- Design and Art Australia Online

painter, illustrator, printmaker and potter, was born on 20 December 1890 at Kilkerran on the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia. She studied at the South Australian School of Arts and Crafts with Leslie Wilkie and Gwen Barringer , and with James Ashton in the 1920s, then travelled to London to further her studies at the Royal Drawing Society, Regent Street Polytechnic in 1926 27, where she won gold and bronze medals for her work. On this first overseas trip she visited Ceylon and South Africa.

After returning to Sydney, Kohlhagen took the advice of Thea Proctor and studied linocut printmaking with Adelaide Perry in 1935 36; ‘Model Resting’ (AGSA) is captioned the ‘first print made by me in 1935’. She was a founding member of the NSW Contemporary Art Society (CAS) and exhibited with it. She also exhibited with the Society of Artists, Women Painters (1935), and NSW CAS at Macquarie Galleries in March 1937. In 1937 38 she studied painting with George Bell in Melbourne and exhibited with the Victorian CAS. A founding member of the Contemporary Art Society of South Australia (1942 68), she also belonged to the Royal South Australian Society of Arts [RSASA] from 1925 to 1968 and exhibited with it (including as an original member of Dorrit Black ‘s Group 9). She was RSASA secretary in 1943 62 and later, vice president; in 1943 she was made a Fellow. Her work was included in the Adelaide Group Exhibition at Myer Art Gallery, Melbourne, in 1946; she had a solo exhibition at the RSASA in 1947 and two at the Arts Council of South Australia in 1948 and 1949. She lectured at the National Gallery of South Australia, and in the 1940s and 1950s wrote art reviews for the Adelaide newspapers, the Express and the News . Travel in 1958 and 1968 included Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom, where she also exhibited her work.

Kohlhagen died in Adelaide on 2 February 1969. Her bequest to the Art Gallery of South Australia included a collection of her own paintings, prints and drawings and £5,000 for the acquistion of works in any medium by interstate and overseas artists. She herself worked in watercolour, tempera and oil on canvas/board and made linocut prints; her subject matter included landscapes, still-lifes and, especially, genre studies. In 1934-44 she also exhibited pottery at the Royal South Australian Society of Arts.