Maria Lassnig (Austrian, b. 1919) is one of the most important contemporary painters and can be seen as a pioneer in many areas of art today. Emphatically refusing to make “pictures,” she has long focused on ways of representing her internal world. Using the term “body awareness,” Lassnig has regularly tried to paint the way her body feels to her from the inside, rather than attempting to depict it from without.
Throughout a remarkable career that has spanned more than 70 years, she has continued to create work that vulnerably explores the way she comes into contact with the world, often placing particular emphasis upon the disjunctions between her own self-image and the way she is seen by others—as a woman, as a painter, and as a person living through the dramatic technological and cultural developments that have marked the century of her lifetime. Bravely exposing personal traumas, fantasies, and nightmares, Lassnig’s art offers instruction for courageous living in a time of increasingly spectacularized social interaction.
Focusing on Lassnig’s self-portraiture, the exhibition presents works by the artist—most of them never previously exhibited in the U.S.—from all creative periods of her career, spanning her early involvement with graphic abstraction in Paris and Art Informel, to her later shift to figural representation. The show will be the most significant survey of her work ever presented in the United States, featuring approximately 50 paintings drawn from public and private collections and the artist herself, as well as a selection of watercolors and filmic works.
Maria Lassnig. Transparentes Selbstporträt. 1987. Oil on canvas. Courtesy the artist.