“Who forced us to look at old naked women?” Cries one review. “A sensational exhibition of anxiety” claims another. In her own words, Maria Lassnig illustrated …truth.
Maria Lassnig, You or Me, 2008, oil on canvas.
Who is Maria Lassnig?
Maria Lassnig (1919-2014) was an austrian painter known for her self portraits and focus on what she termed ‘body awareness’. Her intention was to capture all of the ephemeral, instable, and strange sensations that we feel as “The truth,” she once proclaimed, “resides in the emotions produced in the physical shell”.
Lassnig has a long history of works but what ties them all together is their humanity. She typically paints herself though in various guises, and does this because the art must come from her feelings within, not from photographs or models. She frequently paints with her eyes closed.
Maria Lassnig, 3 Ways of Being, 2004, oil on canvas.
Maria Lassnig’s Work
And what does she convey? The uniquely human phenomenon of embarrassment that bridges mind and body. Pulsating fleshy hues almost contained in the frame of a body but wavering, spilling out of its sides, and deforming its structure; her work acutely expresses the way in which the thoughts in our head can seige our body causing one to sweat or go weak at the knees.
Maria Lassnig, Grab The Bull By The Horns, mid-1880’s, oil on canvas.
Maria Lassnig was one of the most influential modern-day painters and a leading figure for women artists. As the first woman awarded the Grand Austrian State Prize in 1988, the first woman to hold professorship at the University of Applied Art Vienna and prized with the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art in 2005, she has been adequately recognised for her enormous talent.
She has exhibited in some of the most renowned galleries in the world such as MoMa, the Tate and The Serpentine Galleries as well as showing at Art Basel. If you want to see more of her works The Albertine Gallery in Vienna will be celebrating what would have been Lassnig’s 100th birthday by hosting a retrospective September 2019 to 1st December 2019.