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Maria Lassnig

Maria Lassnig

*  1919 Kappel am Krappfeld/Kärnten
† 2014 Wien

The Austrian painter and media artist Maria Lassnig was born in Kappel am Krappfeld in Carinthia in 1919. In 1925 she moved to Klagenfurt with her mother and her stepfather. In order to support her talent in art, Maria Lassnig had drawing lessons from an early point on. After she had finished school she trained to be an elementary teacher and was active as such in 1940/41. In 1941 Maria Lassnig applied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, where she had classes with teachers such as Wilhelm Dachauer, Ferdinand Andri and Herbert Boeckl. In 1943 she received her diploma. In 1945 the artist returned to Klagenfurt, where she made first works that show the influence of Surrealism. In 1951 Maria returned to Vienna again, the same year she was granted a scholarship for Paris where she spent some time in 1952. During these days she met the surrealists André Breton and Paul Celan as well as other representatives. After Maria Lassnig had returned to Vienna in 1956 she became part of the circle of artists around the legendary "Galerie nächst St. Stephan" together with artists such as Wolfgang Hollegha, Markus Prachensky, Josef Mikl and Arnulf Rainer. Between 1961 and 1968 Maria Lassnig lived in Paris again. Her mother died in 1964.
Works from Maria Lassnig''s early period of creation are characterized by both surrealist and informal tendencies. From 1958 on she began the series "Introvertierte Figurationen" (Introvert Figurations) and "Körperbewusstseins-Aquarelle" (Body Awareness Watercolors), in the 1960s she made the large-size "Körpergefühls-Bilder" (Body Feeling Pictures).
In 1968 Maria Lassnig decided to emigrate to the USA. She set up a studio in East Village, New York and developed an increasingly realistic style and began to experiment with silkscreens, additionally, she made animation films as of 1970.
For a long time Maria Lassnig''s art was considered too gloomy and morbid. Her works revolve around issues of the body, in most cases her own body, and can be subsumed under the term "body-awareness". Her later figurations are more expressive and colorful.
Maria Lassnig saw her final breakthrough after she had returned to Vienna, in order to accept a professorship for painting at the University of Applied Arts. A post she held until 1997. Together with Valie Export Maria Lassnig represented Austria at the Biennale in Venice in 1980. In 1982 and 1997 her works were shown at the Documenta in Kassel. In the following she had numerous exhibitions in acclaimed museums all over the world. In 2003 the artist represented her home country at the Beijing Biennale. In 2004 she was awarded the Max-Beckmann-Prize from the city of Frankfurt. In 2010 the Lenbachhaus in Munich arranged a comprehensive solo show on occasion of the artist''s 90th birthday.
With her remarkably unique and individual oeuvre Maria Lassnig is considered one of the most outstanding painters and graphic artists of the post-war era. She died in Vienna on 6 May 2014 at the old age of 94.