Maria Lassnig


Maria Lassnig (Austria) was a painter, sculptor, graphic artist and filmmaker born in Carinthia in 1919. In the 1950s she studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and later moved to Paris where she befriended André Breton, Benjamin Péret, and other members of the Surrealist movement. First working in abstraction under the influence of Abstract Expressionism and Art Informel, Lassnig eventually adopted figuration and went on to paint figuratively for the rest of her life, rejecting the academic realist style favoured by the Nazis and finding inspiration in Austrian Expressionism, particularly the work of Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. She moved to New York in the late 1960s, eventually returning to Austria in 1980 to accept the position of professor of painting at the University of Applied Arts Vienna — the first female in any German-speaking country to hold this position. She served as chair of the department until 1997. Lassnig’s work won her many accolades, including the Grand Austrian State Prize (1988), the Roswitha Haftmann Prize and Rubens Prize (2002), Max Beckmann Prize (2004), Austrian Decoration for Science and Art (2005), and a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement from the Venice Biennale (2013). Her works have appeared in solo exhibitions at Stedelijk Museum (2019), MoMA PS1 (2018), and Tate Liverpool (2016), among many others. Lassnig’s work is in the collection of the Centre Pompidou, Kunstmuseum Basel, The Museum of Modern Art, Stedelijk Museum, and the Austrian Film Museum. Lassnig died in Vienna in 2014 at the age of 94. In 2021, friends and confidants Mara Mattushka and Hans Werner Poschauko completed a collection of unfinished Lassnig films, following the artist’s notes, which have been released together with a new publication by the Austrian Film Museum that includes commentary by Carolee Schneemann, Ulrike Ottinger, and others. Maria Lassnig. Film Works can be ordered here. Her films are distributed by Sixpack Film. 


ONLINE SCREENING DATES: May 20 – June 10, 2021

FILMS IN THIS PROGRAM: Kantate (The Ballad of Maria Lassnig), 7.5 min, 1992; Baroque Statues, 15 min, 1970-74

Kantate, 7.5 min, 1992

The world and the people in their comic-tragic confusion, prejudices, and superstitions gave me plenty of material to point my finger at. Imperfection and pain can be overcome with humor. To write articles, dialogues, and songs as a painter was a big adventure, but it also awakened my conscience and a feeling of responsibility, if not before the film then in any case afterwards. – Maria Lassnig

Baroque Statues 15 min, 1970-74

In an associative montage statues of saints in rigid and rapt poses are crosscut with those of real actors until the two can no longer be told apart. Gradually the real bodies break away from the constraints of their wooden models through increasingly improvised dance. A successful act of liberation from convention, which the material celebrates in an ecstasy of multiple exposures and psychedelic colors. – Maya McKechneay


A selection of Maria Lassnig’s letters, read by Nicole Eisenman, Friederike Mayröcker, Precious Okoyomon and others can be found here. All stills, photographs, and artwork courtesy Sixpack Film ©Maria Lassnig Foundation and Sixpack Film. Screening co-presented with Sixpack Film.