Emma Schlangenhausen studied at the School of Graphic and Experimental Art and the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. She studied under Alfred Roller until he left to become a designer at the Vienna Court Opera; some commentators have seen Roller’s influence in the presentation of Schlangenhausen’s work. After Roller’s departure, she studied with Kolo Moser, whose work in monochrome woodcuts would greatly influence Schlangenhausen. While in school, she and other students prepared posters for the city of Vienna in “Die Fläche”, a graphic arts publication produced by several professors. Schlangenhausen’s work has been described as “arguably the most ambitious and also most attractive design in the series”, using design elements that would not come into vogue for decades yet. In that same year, she published her original woodcut “Yearning” in the Vienna Secession magazine “Ver Sacrum”. She exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, where she won a silver medal, and in 1908 she exhibited at the Vienna Art Show. From 1911 through 1914 she studied in Paris.
Schlangenhausen was a founding member of a Viennese women’s art association known as Wiener Frauenkunst and was also a member of the Association of Visual Artists of Austria and Der Wassermann. Through these organizations, Schlangenhausen was afforded the ability to exhibit her work broadly, allowing her to leave behind the applied arts and devote herself to fine art. Her primary focus was on the creation of woodcuts, which she printed in sharp contrasts with black ink on white paper, largely on religious themes but also making landscapes, female figures, and rural scenes. Schlangenhausen’s work was included in the 2019 exhibition at the Belvedere Museum of Vienna, “City of Women: Female Artists in Vienna from 1900 to 1938”. Her work is held at museums world-wide, including the National Galleries Scotland, the Leicester Museum, the Pomona College Museum, and others.