Logo Fundació Antoni Tàpies

27 february – 31 may 2015

Maria Lassnig

Focusing on Lassnig’s elaborations of the self-portrait and her bodily exploration of her relations with the animal and the machine, the exhibition at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies presents works from 1942 until recent years.
Lassnig’s main preoccupation was a relentless selfquestioning, she painted, wrote, drew and filmed. The exhibition and the catalogue pick up on these diverse gestures, these reflections on her work. She sees through her body.

Throughout a remarkable career that spanned more than seven decades, from the late 1940s at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, a city she taught in from the 1980s, by way of the Paris art scene of the fifties and sixties, and the New York one of the seventies, she continued to create artworks that explore her own body, in a manner that is both sensitive and vulnerable. Focusing on Lassnig’s elaborations of the self-portrait and her bodily exploration of her relations with the animal and the machine, the exhibition at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies presents works from 1942 until recent years. It is partly inspired by the exhibition Der Ort der Bilder / The Location of Pictures [1] at Neue Galerie Graz. Universalmuseum Joanneum, Graz, a retrospective whose artworks came mainly from the artist’s studio, artworks she held back for their personal importance to her.

The exhibition at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies sets aside the ‘isms’ periods, as Maria Lassnig called them [2] – Surrealism, Tachisme, Art Informel, the German and Parisian influences of her formative years – in order to concentrate on the work created from the 1970s onwards and during her stay in New York when the concept of ‘body awareness’ reached its fullest expression, accompanied by her writings and animated films. Maria Lassnig wrote: ‘I only partially screen myself from the outside world, i.e. when I sit in front of a table with apples on it, whether I really see it and paint it, while only allowing myself to cling to it like a pair of pliers, i.e. allowing my emotional shoulder blades to extend, as pliers, into the optical table.’ [3]

Lassnig’s main preoccupation was a relentless selfquestioning, she painted, wrote, drew and filmed. The exhibition and the catalogue pick up on these diverse gestures, these reflections on her work. She sees through her body. Untiringly, she repeatedly posed the same questions and depicted the tensions between the inside (of her body, her work) and the outside (what she saw, the way she was seen). She saw herself situated within ‘the eternal antagonism of my works of bodily sensation: between the sensations of pressure, heat and tension and those deriving from the optical phenomena observed between the eyelids’, but ‘in general I utilise them simultaneously’ [4]. The importance of drawing and of watercolours, which she herself called ‘researches into imagination’ or impressions of corporeal sensations, is not overlooked. ‘The drawing,’ she wrote, is what gets ‘closest to an idea,’ [5] to the capture of the potential of a moment. On show are 45 paintings, most of them from the artist’s studio, as well as a selection of watercolours and videos, plus letters, photos, drawings, writings and material from her personal and work archives.

1. Maria Lassnig. Der Ort der Bilder / Maria Lassnig. The Location of Pictures, Neue Galerie Graz. Universalmuseum Joanneum, 17 November 2012 – 28 April 2013; Deichtorhallen Hamburg, 21 June – 8 September 2013; Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, 27 October 2013 – 12 January 2014; MoMA PS1 (reconfiguration), 9 March – 7 September 2014.

2. Jacqueline Kaess-Farquet, Das Interview. Maria Lassnig im Gespräch mit Hans Ulrich Obrist / The Interview. Hans Ulrich Obrist Interviews Maria Lassnig, Independent Artfilms J.K.F.-P.ME., 2008.

3. Maria Lassnig, ‘Body-awareness-painting’ (1970), Maria Lassnig. The Pen is the Sister of the Brush. Diaries 1947-1997, Gottingen i Zürich & London: Steidl i Hauser & Wirth, 2009.

4. Maria Lassnig,”Diaris de M. L., 2000-2001, Eudemònia”, 2000-2001.

5. Maria Lassnig, “Manifest body awareness”, 1992.


In collaboration with Universalmuseum Joanneum, Graz.

Du oder Ich, 2005 (Tú o yo). Óleo sobre tela. Colección privada. Cortesía Hauser & Wirth

Institutional Sponsors:



Sponsors:




With the support of: