Although best known as a painter, Maria Lassnig (1919–2014) began to experiment with film in 1970. From that point on, she created animations using felt-tip pen drawings, stencils, spray paint, and collaged magazine cutouts as well as live-action scenes featuring protagonists and settings drawn from friends and everyday encounters. In one way or another, all of Lassnig’s films investigate what the artist termed “body awareness,” an ambitious artistic desire to express the complex and often slippery subjective qualities of internal sensory experience and self-perception.
This exhibition celebrates Lassnig’s pioneering work on film, featuring 16 pieces that explore physical sensation, autobiography, friendship, and New York City, where the artist lived in the 1970s. Reproductions of ephemera—texts and images from the Maria Lassnig Foundation in Vienna, Austria—give visitors a glimpse into the artist’s practice and document the evolution of her ideas. With candid and unsparing interrogations of identity that eschew the contemporary fascination with spectacular imagery, Lassnig’s films remain strongly relevant to—and an antidotal critique of—art and life today.