It isn’t easy to translate a physical sensation into a sculptural or graphic language; wanting to contain it within certain boundaries and forms is an arbitrary act, justified only by its intensity, originality, and selection.
Marking the 100th birthday of the Austrian artist Maria Lassnig, who died in 2014, our Graphik Kabinett is presenting an exhibition that sheds light on almost her entire creative career. At the heart of her ruthlessly candid pictures are the artist’s physical sensations. With her ‘body awareness pictures’, as she called them, Lassnig forged her own independent path between abstraction and figuration.
All the paintings, drawings, watercolours and prints shown in our exhibition come from the Klewan Collection. In 1981, the collector presented the first Lassnig exhibition at his gallery in Munich. Since then, numerous solo exhibitions have ensured that in the second half of her life, Maria Lassnig finally met with the recognition, also worldwide, that had eluded her for so long. Today, she is celebrated as the most important Austrian painter of the post-war era.
Thirty years of friendship with Maria Lassnig were a constant struggle. One had to wheedle every picture out of her. She preferred to give me oil paintings on consignment rather than sell them to me outright. The idea that she might not be able to retrieve a painting was unbearable to her. Fortunately, she lived to the age of almost 95 and got to enjoy her international fame.