Maria Lassnig (1919–2014), one of the most important artists of the present day, produced an important and previously unexplored body of work reflecting her relationship to classical antiquity, mythology and to the extraordinary Greek landscape. The exhibition, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, is the last project that Maria Lassnig was able to plan personally. The historic significance of the artist is being accentuated once more through this exhibition and its interaction with documenta and its theme, Learning from Athens. Lassnig’s work was already represented at documenta 7 (1982) and documenta 10 (1997).
Around 50 works are on show—paintings and works on paper, especially watercolours—which seize upon motifs from Greek mythology and their expansive and permanent exchange with all Mediterranean civilisations. With a particular emphasis on the decades of the 1980s and 1990s, the exhibition illuminates typical characteristics of Maria Lassnig’s body of work: self-portraiture and her concept of “body awareness," the painterly rendering of the inner and outer worlds, as well as animal portrayals and landscapes. In an unusual selection, the exhibition focuses on Lassnig’s unconventional relationship with ancient mythology and highlights a playful, feminist artistic practice that extends a call for the consolidation of the individual’s right to self-identification and self-determination.
The realization of the show is a result of the fruitful collaboration between the Curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, the Artistic Director of the Municipal Gallery of Athens, Denys Zacharopoulos and the Chairman of the Board of the Maria Lassnig Foundation, Peter Pakesch. The diverse loans of the show are provided by the Maria Lassnig Foundation, as well as by three of the most important museums in Austria, The Albertina Museum – The Essl Collection and the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (mumok) in Vienna and Neue Galerie Graz, Universalmuseum Joanneum, Graz. The title of the exhibition comes from the celebrated Austrian writer Friederike Mayröcker, Lassnig’s confidante of many years.
A catalogue in English and Greek is being published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, including texts by Daniela Hammer-Tugendhat, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Peter Pakesch, Ingrid Rowland, Elisabeth Schlebrügge, Amy Sillman and Denys Zacharopoulos. The publication is realised with the kind support of the Federal Chancellery of Austria.
The accompanying public programme includes screenings of Lassnig’s film oeuvre, academic lectures, guided tours and educational programmes.
The Municipal Gallery of Athens, one of the most illustrious Greek art institutions, was founded in 1914. Housed in a historic building designed by Christian Hansen, the brother of the “Vienna Ringstrasse architect” Theophil Hansen, the gallery also contains an impressive collection of works by modern artists.
Exhibition organised by the Municipal Gallery of Athens (OPANDA) and the Maria Lassnig Foundation, with the kind support of the Federal Chancellery of Austria, the Austrian Embassy in Athens, Hauser & Wirth, and Petzel Gallery.