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Maria Lassnig. Zwiegespräche

Deeply felt emotions are at the core of the art of Maria Lassnig (1919–2014). Works she labeled «body awareness» art seek to render physical sensations and trace the nuances of her perception of her own body. Humorous and serious, driven by profound yearnings and relentlessly rigorous, the Austrian artist captured her sense of—mental, physical—self on paper, transmuting not what she saw but how she felt her own existence into images. Even as she honed her introspective attention to her body, Lassnig remained in constant touch with the outside world. Her portraits grow out of a searching study of reality, though her sensitive observations of animals and humans reach far beyond mere representation of the visible, engaging with her subjects to bring out their essence and probe their singularity.

Lassnig’s dialogue with the inner and outer worlds, with the complexities of emotion and reality, is especially vivid in her works on paper. A sheltering medium, the drawing becomes a scene of experimentation with spontaneously placed lines and fields of color. It opens up new perspectives and helps the artist chart new themes. Yet despite the intimate quality of graphic art, she tends to lay out her works on paper in monumental and pictorial compositions. Lassnig’s drawings have transcended the idea of the sketch or first draft for an autonomous creative articulation on paper. In the intensity of the draftsmanship, the vibrancy of the individual line as much as the radiance of the watercolor, her graphic art is visibly and palpably of a piece with her painting.
Relevant research areas: Western Europe, 20th Century

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