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Maria Lassnig, one of the most important women artists of the 20th century, in Albertina
3 May, 2017 - 4 May, 2017
Artistic realisation of the deeply felt is the central focus of Maria Lassnig’s oeuvre. Lassnig’s “body-awareness” works centre on rendering bodily sensations visible and retracing bodily perception. It was in a way that was at once humorous and serious, yearning and merciless that the artist put how she perceived and sensed her own self to paper. It was not what she saw with her eyes, but what she sensed and felt via her body that she visualised.
Maria Lassnig stands alongside Louise Bourgeois, Joan Mitchell, and Agnes Martin as one of the most important women artists of the 20th century. It was early on that she made her own body the central focus of her art, long before body-consciousness, body language, and the relations between women and men became central themes of the international avant-garde.
Despite or precisely because of this, she was discovered only later on—and like Bourgeois, Mitchell, and others, she was long overshadowed by her male colleagues. Only quite recently has the echo produced by the spectacular Lassnig exhibitions at museums and galleries reflected the major, internationally relevant contribution that she made to post- 1945 contemporary art. The artist is now quite rightly presented as a great painter, though it still often goes unrecognised just how important it was that she thought and worked in terms of lines.
Three years after her death, the Albertina—home to the world’s largest collection of drawings—is honouring Maria Lassnig with a retrospective of her drawn work, bringing together around 100 of the artist’s most beautiful hand drawings. Works on paper that were
entirely unknown up to now prove to be key, here: together with more familiar output, they shed new light on this Austrian artist’s concept of body-awareness and afford new insights into her diverse oeuvre.
Top Image: Maria Lassnig Head, 1963 Watercolour Albertina, Vienna © 2017 Maria Lassnig Foundation