Active since the 1970s Bertlmann, who was born in Vienna in 1943, has worked in a variety of mixed media; including collages, drawings, photographs, photo-films, performances, and sculptural objects. The fil rouge of her work is the ambivalence of the feminine and masculine relationship, pursuing, often also with humor, an interrogation on gender relations.
"My main interest became the phenomenon of male abuse of power; power as disinhibiting aphrodisiac, especially within the realm of sexuality."—Renate Bertlmann
In 1975, Bertlmann participated in the ground-breaking exhibition 'MAGNA. Feminismus: Kunst und Kreativität' [MAGNA. Feminism: Art and Creativity] curated by fellow feminist artist Valie Export. Anither milestone followed in 1978 where she started to use her motto 'AMO ERGO SUM' [I love, therefore I am], which inspires the production of an eponymous titled letter-box filled with 77 letters containing secret messages from the artist to other people. In addition, she starts to organize her work into the three related themes of 'Pornography', 'Irony' and 'Utopia'. In 1994 she became a member of the Secession in Vienna.
In 2019, Bertlmann represented Austria´s Pavillion at the 58th Venice Biennale, as the first solo female artist. Her installation of 312 knife roses made out of Murano glass where installed in the backyard.