Irma René Koen: An Artist Rediscovered Opening at the Figge
September 25, 2017

(September 25, 2017) – Opening Saturday in the second-floor Katz Gallery at the Figge Art Museum is a new exhibition of work from Rock island native and distinguished artist of the 20th century: Irma René Koen (1883-1975). 

Irma René Koen: An Artist Rediscovered features more than 40 paintings by Irma René Koen produced over the course of 70 years. Her work reflects her artistic journey as well as shifts in style and taste during the era. Her paintings range from light-filled impressionist scenes of the Eastern seaboard to expressive oil paintings from her time in Mexico. 
Koen’s legacy was largely forgotten until art historian Cynthia Wiedemann Empen, Ph. D., began a line of research that uncovered this intriguing local figure who was a professional artist at a time when women making a career in art were a rarity.
Koen studied and painted at the Art Institute of Chicago (1903-1908) and at art colonies critical to the development of art in the country. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, she was an active member of the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery (the precursor of the Figge Art Museum).
In addition to an impressive run of exhibitions, awards and memberships, Koen traveled the world—working in France, England, Germany, North Africa and Asia. Koen eventually moved to Mexico where she lived and worked for more than 30 years.
Many of Koen’s paintings are cherished family heirlooms held by private collectors with roots in the Quad Cities. This project would not have been possible without their generous loans to the museum.
Irma René Koen: An Artist Rediscovered was made possible by the support of Osherenko Young Foundation. Contributing sponsors include the William Butterworth Foundation, Rock Island Art Guild and Quad City International Airport. The exhibition will be on view through December 31, 2017.
Companion Events:

Curator Talk - Irma René Koen

Thursday, October 5
5:30 p.m. Reception
7 p.m. Curator Talk

Figge Executive Director Tim Schiffer will introduce the Koen exhibitionGuests will also hear from the exhibition curators, Vanessa Sage, and Cynthia Wiedemann Empen, Ph.D.


Curator Talk
6 p.m. Wednesday, October 11
Rock Island Public Library
401 19th Street, Rock Island, Illinois
Cynthia Wiedemann Empen, Ph.D., guest curator, will present “‘An Interesting Rock Island Girl’: The Modern Art and Life of Irma René Koen.”



Thursday, October 19
5:30 p.m. Social Hour
7 p.m. Art, Architecture and the Deere Family Story

Staff from the Butterworth Center & Deere-Wiman House will talk about the Deere Family’s dedication to the development of the arts in the community, including the impact of artists such as Irma René Koen.
Guided Tours
Saturday, October 14 & December 9
Sunday, November 19 & December 10
Tours begin at 1:30 p.m. Meet in the Museum Store. Free with admission.
Free Family Day
10 a.m-1 p.m. Saturday, November 18
Enjoy free admission all day, with activities scheduled from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sponsored by the Quad-City Times
About the Figge Art Museum:
The Figge Art Museum is located on the riverfront in downtown Davenport at 225 West Second Street. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and Sundays noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays the 
museum is open until 9 p.m. Admission to the museum and tour is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and
students with ID and $4 children ages 4-12. Admission is free to Figge members and institutional members, and free to all on Thursday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Figge Café is open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. To contact the museum, please call 563.326.7804, or visit


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