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The Early Work

1 February to 19 May 2019

Maria Lassnig and Arnulf Rainer rank among Austria’s most successful artists. Lassnig would be 100 this year, Rainer celebrates his 90th birthday. The two first met in Klagenfurt in 1948. The years they spent together proved of seminal importance for both their works.

The exhibition at the LENTOS puts on display works that illustrate points the two artists had in common as well as individual forms of expression. Both Lassnig’s and Rainer’s early work features surrealist drawings. Starting in 1951, the two repeatedly travelled to Paris together. The newly emerging Informel tendencies inspired them to try out completely new expressive forms. As early as 1947 Lassnig created her first body sensation drawings, for which she coined the term Introspektive Erlebnisse [Introspective experiences]. After Paris Lassnig turned to Informel monotypes, calling them Amorphe Automatik, Statische Meditationen and Stumme Formen [Amorphous Automatism, Static Meditations and Mute Forms]. After his return from Paris, Rainer wrote the theoretical treatise Malerei, um die Malerei zu verlassen [Painting in order to leave Painting]. He created Mikrostrukturen, Blindzeichnungen, Zentralisationen, Kruzifikationen and Vertikalgestaltungen [Microstructures, Blind Drawings, Centralisations, Crucifications and Vertical Arrangements]. Both Lassnig’s Flächenteilungen [Area Divisions] and Rainer’s Proportionen [Proportions] are predicated on geometrically ordered structures. By 1954 the two struck out in decidedly different directions. While Rainer exhibited his Übermalungen [Overpaintings] in Otto Mauer’s Galerie St. Stephan, Lassnig’s series Kopfheiten [Head-Heads] was on show at the Galerie Würthle.

The exhibition at the LENTOS is comprised of roughly 120 works of art. The LENTOS gratefully acknowledges support by a great number of museums, galleries, private lenders and the Maria Lassnig Stiftung. Many works by Maria Lassnig will be put on Display for the first time in over 50 years. In a modified form, the exhibition will be on view at the Museum Moderner Kunst Kärnten from 14 June to 1 September.

Curator: Brigitte Reutner
Architects: Nicole Six and Paul Petritsch


The exhibition will be accompanied by a lavishly illustrated catalogue published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne. With a preface by Hemma Schmutz and essays by Monika Leisch-Kiesl, Natalie Lettner, Brigitte Reutner and Robert Fleck.
239 pages, colour plates, Text in German, € 28

Buy online at the LENTOS Shop
(Order transaction in German only)

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Thursday, 31 January, 7 pm

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Every Tuesday, 4 pm
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Foto: © maschekS.