Hall for Contemporary Art 21 June — 8 September 2013

The show at Deichtorhallen Hamburg from June 21 through September 8, 2013 represents the first time that the work of 93-year-old Austrian painter MARIA LASSNIG has been presented to any great extent in the north of Germany and features some 113 exhibits dating from 1945 through 2012, plus two films produced in the 1970s. At the heart of the exhibition, realized in cooperation with Neue Galerie in Graz, is previously unknown work, work that Maria Lassnig has kept under wraps in her studio. The studio selection on show at the Hamburg exhibition is being complemented by loans from reputed Austrian museums and private collections such as the Albertina, the Belvedere, the Essl Collection and the MUMOK. Parts of the exhibition will subsequently be proceeding to the Dhondt-Dhaenens Museum in Deurle, and the MoMA PS1, Long Island City, USA.

Known only to a few insiders on the Austrian art scene back in 1970, today Maria Lassnig (born in Kärnten in 1919) is considered one of the world’s foremost 20th-century female artists, alongside such luminaries as Frida Kahlo and Louise Bourgeois. This exceptional artist not only took part in documenta twice (1982 and 1997) and represented Austria at the 1980 Venice Biennale, but was also the first female professor of Painting in a German-speaking country. This year Maria Lassnig will receive the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the 55th Venice Biennale (1 June - 24 Nov 2013).

Maria Lassnig guides viewers through the many different states of abstraction and realism to a very personal, recondite but nonetheless humorous world of perception and sentiment. Her very special approach to painting and her unique use of color contribute to this. Lassnig’s central preoccupation is that ruthless self-questioning to which she has subjected herself in different ways throughout her life. Her self-portraits can be informal, may be expressed in traumatic, surreal figures, abbreviated amalgamations of man and animal or can move through a film. We encounter human beings who have morphed into machines or who have become pure abstraction. Accordingly, for instance, her highly erotically charged images “Mit einem Tiger schlafend” (Sleeping with a tiger, 1979) and “Die blaue Blume der Romantik” (The blue flower of Romanticism, 1961) sometimes feature a realistic design and are sometimes completely abstract. Yet her pictures always build up a direct emotional tension between an inner and an outer world, which it is hard for viewers to avoid.

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Video Teaser

Video Catalog



The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog featuring numerous illustrations of Maria Lassnig’s work, a foreword by Peter Unsworth and Dirk Luckow, texts by Gottfried Boehm and Günther Holler-Schuster plus a discussion between Oswald Wiener and Silvia Eiblmayr, presented by Peter Pakesch. The catalog includes a DVD showing two films dating from 1971. 208 pages, German/English. Published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne. Price: € 29.90