Anthology Film Archives

MARIA LASSNIG

February 17 – February 20

Austrian artist Maria Lassnig (1919-2014) is internationally recognized as one of the foremost painters of the 20th and 21st centuries. Her importance within the Austrian and European art world can hardly be exaggerated, thanks to her role in helping to introduce the various forms of Informalism (a movement parallel to American Abstract Expressionism) into Austria; her membership in the seminal group, Hundsgruppe, alongside artists such as Arnulf Rainer, Ernst Fuchs, and others; and above all to her singular preoccupation with self-portraiture and the body, which led to the development of her artistic theory of “body awareness”. Following her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Lassnig relocated first to Paris and then to NYC, where she lived from 1968-80. Her years in New York were of profound importance to her life and career: energized by the city, she produced a flood of paintings and drawings, as well as studying animation at the School of Visual Arts and joining the nascent group Women/Artist/Filmmakers, Inc.

Lassnig remains far better known for her paintings, drawings, and prints. But the films she produced – mainly during her sojourn in the U.S. – represent a vitally important part, not only of her own body of work, but of experimental filmmaking in the 1970s in general. After decades of neglect, these films are coming back into the limelight, thanks primarily to the efforts of her former students Mara Mattuschka and Hans Werner Poschauko, and to the support of institutions including sixpackfilm, the Austrian Film Museum, and others. And this newfound attention extends beyond the nine (“canonical”) films that Lassnig completed and exhibited during her lifetime (eight of them filmed in NYC, as well as the later work, THE BALLAD OF MARIA LASSNIG, from 1992). Following her death in 2014, Mattuschka and Poschauko unearthed a treasure trove of films that Lassnig had never fully completed or shown, and that had languished unseen in her apartment. These works have now been completed by Mattuschka and Poschauko according to the instructions she left behind, and newly restored, a process fully documented by the new book, “Maria Lassnig: Film Works” (2021).

To celebrate Lassnig’s moving-image work, the restoration of her films, and the publication of “Maria Lassnig: Film Works”, Anthology is proud to host two programs devoted to both her “canonical” films and the newly completed “non-canonical” works that have expanded and enriched our understanding of her cinema.

“For Lassnig, film was by no means just a pastime or an excursion into low or popular culture. Like other 20th century artists, she embraced film as a unique means of expression. As the artist herself put it, while it is only ever the final layer of a painting, that is, the ‘finished’ image, that remains, film allows the unfolding of time itself to be depicted, frame by frame, film image by film image. Yet Lassnig’s film work is hardly just ‘painting in time’…. Her work reflects her engagement with the medium, its history, and its narrative techniques, ranging from Hollywood cinema via American independent film and animation all the way to television. And in aesthetic terms too, Lassnig rejects any sort of orthodoxy. […] We believe it is Lassnig’s bold interdisciplinarity with which she devoted herself to film and the possibilities of new (feminist) artistic production that explains the considerable response to her oeuvre. What one can now discover and explore is an entirely corporeal, tactile, personal cinema which equally bears witness to the social and political struggles of the time at which it was made.” –Eszter Kondor, Michael Loebenstein, Peter Pakesch, and Hans Werner Poschauko, MARIA LASSNIG: FILM WORKS

For more info about the book, “Maria Lassnig: Film Works” (FilmmuseumSynemaPublications), visit: https://www.filmmuseum.at/en/shop/shop_detail?shop_produkte_id=1605235818901

For more info about the related DVD visit: https://sixpackfilm.com/en/indexedition/release/51/

Presented in collaboration with the Maria Lassnig Foundation and sixpackfilm, with generous support from the Austrian Cultural Forum New York. Special thanks to Susanne Keppler-Schlesinger & Melina Tsiamos (ACFNY); Hans Werner Poschauko (Maria Lassnig Foundation); and Dietmar Schwärzler, Gerald Weber, and Isabella Reicher (sixpackfilm).

All the “canonical” films (16mm) are provided by sixpackfilm; all the “non-canonical” films (which will be presented digitally) have been preserved and restored by the Maria Lassnig Foundation in collaboration with the Austrian Film Museum.

Upcoming Screenings

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