In episode 35 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the world-renowned art historian and biographer, Natalie Lettner, on the FASCINATING and BRILLIANT Austrian-born artist, MARIA LASSNIG (1919–2014) !!!
[This episode is brought to you by Alighieri jewellery: www.alighieri.co.uk | use the code TGWA at checkout for 10% off!]
And WOW. This is one of the most interesting life stories I have ever heard of an artist whose work I am COMPLETELY blown away by. Known for her psychologically charged figurative paintings, Lassnig's work is based on the extreme observation of the physical presence of the body – what she termed ‘body awareness’.
Born in 1919, in a small town in southern Austria, Maria's mother gave birth to her out of wedlock and later married a much older man, but their troubled and tempestuous relationship meant Lassnig was raised by her grandmother, who hardly spoke to her since she was six.
Studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in the midst of the Second World War, where she was only exposed to classical and academic art, Lassnig quickly moved away from the state-approved academic realism and travelled around Europe in search of the avant-garde.
After experimenting with surrealism, abstraction, expressionism and constantly being treated lesser than her male counterparts, at age nearly 50 Lassnig moved on to NYC to join forces with the feminist movement. And it was here where her work turned to external realism and painted portraits, nudes and still lifes, at times combining these with her ‘body awareness’ self-portraits.
Recording her psychological states through a direct and unflinching style, her work used garish greens, yellows and blues to giver her paintings a POWERFUL and DRASTIC impact.
Maria Lassnig painted like NO OTHER in the history of art. With such conviction, force, and lack of embarrassment. She was not afraid to reveal anything.
This is one of the most fascinating stories of an artist I have ever SEEN. An artist who almost predicted the influence of technology through her paintings (in the 80s she became obsessed with the machine, and addicted to television!!).
Please listen to this sensation of an episode with the brilliant Natalie who tells her story so well. Only to be recognised with a major exhibition at the age of 89 at the Serpentine Galleries.
WORKS DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE!
You, or Me (2005)
Expressive Self Portrait (1945)
Self Portrait as a Monster (2005)
Self Portrait with Stick (1971)
Chain of Tradition
My Teddy is more real than me (2002)
Natalie's brilliant book!
This episode is sponsored by Alighieri
Use the code: TGWA for 10% off!
Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
Sound editing by Amber Miller (@amber_m.iller)
Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
Music by Ben Wetherfield