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Maria Lassnig


Published on the occasion of the exhibition Maria Lassnig: The Paris Years 1960–68 at Petzel, 456 W 18th Street, on view from November 4 - December 18, 2021.

The exhibition catalogue covers Lassnig’s formative years in Paris, showing over 20 important paintings she developed in her studio on Rue de Bagnolet. Lassnig left Vienna for Paris at a time when she felt there was not space for her in the city’s male-dominated art circles, she proceeded to hold court with contemporaries in France until leaving for her next significant stay, her 12-year residence in New York.

Though she only resided in Paris for eight years, her time there was hugely formative to the movements, techniques, and bodies of work we’ve come to revere her for. As writer Lauren O’Neill-Butler notes in the catalogue’s essay, it was in Paris that Lassnig “…began to fully release herself from aesthetic constraints and developed a sense of freedom that became synonymous with her name. There, Lassnig took up the various isms she explored in her previous paintings—realism, expressionism, surrealism, tachism—and transformed them into something truly autonomous by simultaneously turning more fully to herself, to her sensations, lived experiences, and physical embodiment.”

There has yet to be much scholarship on this period of her life and work, Petzel is pleased to be able to illustrate a portion of this crucial mid-career moment alongside writings from Lassnig’s diaries and letters throughout those years.


Publisher: Petzel, 2021 

Language: English 

Hardcover: 80 pages 

Dimensions: 8 x 10.4 inches 

ISBN: 9781734231113


About the artist


Maria Lassnig was born in 1919 in Carinthia, Austria and passed away in 2014 in Vienna. Underappreciated for most of her life, Lassnig is now rightfully recognized as one of the most important Post-War painters.  

From a young age, Lassnig began to explore the human figure through drawing. She studied painting at the Vienna Fine Arts Academy but found the art scene at that time to be too limiting. She moved to Paris in 1960 and then to New York in 1968, continually exploring how to represent the body as it feels to inhabit rather than how it appears from the outside – a concept which Lassnig named Körperbewusstseinsmalerei (“body awareness painting”). On returning to her native Austria in 1980, she became the country’s first female professor of painting. She also taught animation during her time at the Vienna University of Applied Arts.

Her life’s work won her many accolades including the Grand Austrian State Prize in 1988 and the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in 2013 at the 55th Venice Biennale. She has been the subject of one person exhibitions at the Albertina Museum, Vienna; Deichtorhallen Hamburg; Kunsthaus Zurich; MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Serpentine Gallery, London; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; and Vienna Secession among others. Lassnig represented Austria in the 1980 Venice Biennale alongside Valie Export, and she participated in Documenta in Kassel, Germany in 1982 and 1997.