Kvindelige Kunstneres Samfund (KKS) (The Danish Women’s Artist Association) is one of the oldest professional associations for female artists in the world. The inaugural plenary session took place in Copenhagen on 7 February 1916. The idea for the meeting came from a number of artists that included the painter Anna Ancher and the sculptor Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen. The purpose was to bring together the women’s votes for elections to the Academy of Fine Arts and the exhibitions at Charlottenborg. Ever since then, the focus of KKS has involved working to achieve equality on several fronts and in unison with other artists’ organisations.
KKS has 285 members. The Association works on behalf of members throughout Denmark and, in addition to the professional community, has organised various kinds of joint events. The association also has a number of associate members. They include art historians and art mediators, with whom KKS wishes to form vision and knowledge communities.
The mission of KKS is to make the work of women artists as visible as that of their male counterparts in terms of the public sphere and the advancement of art. In 2014, the association’s anniversary anthology Moments from 100 Years represented a major contribution to the 100th anniversary in 2016, casting a spotlight on important female artists who, in various degrees, had fallen into oblivion. Expert writers increased public awareness of the forgotten struggle waged by female artists in Denmark. The collaboration on the anthology with art historians reflected KKS’s desire to work with professionals and other organisations with the goal of rectifying art history and carving a place for the female artists that have been omitted.
KKS is a member of the Council of Danish Artists and Women’s Council Denmark.
The KKS archive
The KKS Archive is part of Denmark’s cultural heritage. On the whole, the records in the archive are well preserved, but the oldest of them are inevitably fragile. The KKS board has entered into an agreement with the Royal Danish Library, which involves transferring the archive to the library to be conserved for posterity.
There is a separate section of the KKS Archive: ‘Arkivet for Kunstnernes Statsunderstøttede Croquisskole’ (The Archive of the Artists’ State-Subsidised Sketching School). Founded in 1918, the school was the brainchild of Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen and the painter Marie Henriques of the KKS, together with several other artist organisations. It was well attended, but funding was a struggle, and in 1994 the school had to close.
The registration of the records in the archive led to the creation of an online, searchable database of records from 1916 onwards. The database has its platform on the KKS website.
On the basis of documents in the archive, authors and art historians, including some of KKS’s associate members, have written online articles about the early KKS members. These articles are also available for reading on the KKS website, alongside articles about ‘Croquisskolen’.