1950 She was born and grew up on the west coast of Jutland. Impressions from the bustling seaport and its surrounding nature formed the basis for her polarized mode of experience. Nature and the city. Both left traces in her world of motifs and the artistic themes she explored later in life.
1071 She begins her artistic education which includes two academic studies at the same time: art history, film and scientific theory at the University of Aarhus and at the two Academies of Fine Arts in the city she studies painting.
1978 First appearance as a professional artist. She finishes her studies the same year. She makes her debut in four group exhibitions: two censured and two theme exhibitions at Centre for Contemporary Art, Aarhus, Centre of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen and Aarhus Art Museum.
1981 First solo exhibition at the Aarhus avant-garde Gallery Specta. The theme exhibition MUR/RUM (Wall/Room) with the accompanying catalogue featured drawings, paintings, and photographs referring to texts by Jean-Paul Sartre.
Besides (1984-1999) pursuing her artistic career, UD functioned as an external lecturer at the Institute of Art History, Aarhus University, teaching the integration of the theoretical and practical aspects of art. Here she concentrated on thematic and conceptual photography, readymades and the process between the two- and the three-dimensional. A dialectics of art and non-art – an eye-opener and a bridge builder between the existing world and the world as an articulation of the artist.
Artistically UD is to be placed between Pop and Conceptual art in the 70ies and the “Wild Painting” of the 80ies. This placement manifested itself in a series of conceptual theme exhibitions, which UD constructed in the fields of painting, photography and object art. These often took on the character of environments and installations, where the photography played a processual documenting role in the context with paintings.
UD expresses herself in several branches of art – she works on parallel tracks. However, painting and photography, which she cultivated throughout her childhood, is both the starting point and the base to which she returns. The period between the mid-eighties and the mid-nineties is dominated by yet another artistic track. In a number of big architectural projects UD combines her lasting interest in architecture with her experience with color, shape, materials and not least: the aspect of space. Co-operation with a number of architects results in more than 20 public buildings in which she integrates her art in architecture.
Besides the isolated process in the studio, dialogue and co-operators have played an important part in UD’s artistic development. Several of these have been unusual and have produced unusual results. Polaroid, for instance which played an important role in UD’s access to photography resulting in her being the first Danish artist to be admitted to The International Polaroid Collection in 1987, joining international artists like Ansel Adams, Chuck Close, and Andy Warhol. UD was at the latter’s studio, The Factory in New York, during two periods in 1986 and1987. Here she gained insight into his work processes and also got to know the art of Keith Haring and Basquiat, all factors that were to bear an imprint on her art.
UD’s work has always moved between polarities. Between urban and natural environments, between the sensuous and the intellectual, the visual and the verbal. This has resulted in several books and co-operation with authors. This materialized in 1999 with the exhibition project In the Beginning there was…text, picture, poetry, drama in space, where she functioned as curator and exhibited together with a number of the finest artists of Austria who worked with pictures and words. Among these authors and action artists were Ernst Jandl, Frederikke Mayröcker, Valie Export, Günter Brus, Arnulf Rainer and Hermann Nitsch. Her contact with international artists is documented and can be read in her auto- biography En Kunstners Baggård (An Artist’s Backyard) from 2010.
The combination of visual art and literature has always fascinated UD and is underlined in the exhibition BeautiFULL – My Combine Side, featuring contributions from international authors like Fay Weldon and Erica Jong, and presenting an international dialogue in the form of texts by Karin Wieland of Germany and Lubna Ahmed Al-Hussein of South Sudan along with a number of Danish writers.
Ulla Diedrichsen has a long line of exhibitions behind her, both in Denmark and abroad, and she is represented in several museums and collections. In 2005 she was the first Danish woman artist to have a solo exhibition at ARoS Aarhus Museum of Modern Art. It was retrospective, a total installation of her photography from 1975-2005: Moment Movement Monument. Here she was preoccupied with works lifted from the global media world and via physical public space to the private preserve and the thin existential sphere.
In the exhibition BeautiFULL – My Combine Side, 2012-13 at The Womens Museum in Denmark, a feminist theme was explored, while breaking not only with aesthetics, but also with “pure” photography. It was an exhibition of combines and several of the photographs were combined with an object. 2015 in Literaturhaus Salzburg: She combines text and visual expression in the installation WALK DON'T WALK while repeating the existential question “How free are we to choose?"
The Project was supported by Danish Arts Foundation.
Under the auspices of Aarhus, the European Capital of Culture 2017, Ulla Diedrichsen participates in the international exhibition FACE together with e. g. Tony Oursler. Ulla Diedrichsen is represented with self-portraits in video and large-scale photos, for instance "The Scream", which is shown in different versions and sizes up to 9 meters. The theme is Face and Identity and the title of the exhibition catalogue, where Ulla Diedrichsen refers to texts by Georges Brassens and Rolf Biermann: the only possible revolution is to develop the self and wait for others to do the same. And: only fools claim no reason to scream.