New book release
Maria Lassnig and Hans Ulrich Obrist were friends since the 1990s. Whenever the curator travelled to Vienna, where the artist lived, he would visit her in her studio and be served apple strudel. While they conversed about current projects, art and stages in her life and development, he was allowed to have a tape recorder and a camera running.
Made between 1999 and 2012, these recordings are now being published for the first time in the form of a book.
They are accompanied by an audience discussion together with Robert Fleck that was held at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nantes at the beginning of the exhibition “Maria Lassnig” in 1999 and by the transcript of an interview filmed by Jacqueline Kaess-Farquet at Maria Lassnig’s solo show at the Serpentine Gallery in 2008.
“You have to jump into painting with both feet”.
Hans Ulrich Obrist: Interviews with Maria Lassnig
Edited by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Peter Pakesch and Hans Werner Poschauko for the Maria Lassnig Foundation
Contributions by Maria Lassnig, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Kirstin Breitenfellner and Robert Fleck
Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König, Cologne 2022
204 pages, 161 illustrations (147 in colour)
German and English
20 x 27 cm, softcover
It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of artist and Maria Lassnig prize-winner Atta Kwami. Our deepest condolences and best wishes go out to his family, friends and colleagues.
A painter, printmaker, independent art historian and curator, Atta Kwami was hugely influential in Ghana and abroad and has work in many major collections worldwide. We will continue to honor and remember his oeuvre in all ways possible.
Maria Lassnig Foundation, Oct 9, 2021
Oct 29, 2020
The Maria Lassnig Foundation and the Serpentine Galleries are delighted to announce that the 2021 Maria Lassnig Prize is awarded to UK-based Ghanaian artist Atta Kwami.
The Maria Lassnig Prize is awarded biennially to a mid-career artist in association with an international institutional partner. Atta Kwami is the third artist to be granted the Maria Lassnig Prize, following Cathy Wilkes, in partnership with MoMA PS1 (2017), and Sheela Gowda, in partnership with Lenbachhaus (2019).
The artist will receive a major grant of 50,000 euros and a project with Serpentine Galleries, the institutional partner for the 2021 Maria Lassnig Prize. The Serpentine Galleries presented a solo exhibition of Lassnig’s work in 2008. Kwami was selected by a jury comprising the Serpentine Galleries, the Maria Lassnig Foundation, the former partnering institution Lenbachhaus and the artist Albert Oehlen. Atta Kwami’s project with Serpentine – a comprehensive monograph publication and a public art commission – will be launched in 2022.
Atta Kwami (b. Accra, 1956) is a painter, printmaker, art historian and independent curator based in Loughborough, UK. Kwami is known for paintings, murals and kiosk-sculptures that are conceived as expanded three-dimensional paintings, incorporating his signature use of colour and abstract painting style. His works play with the colour and form improvisations that are distinctive of Ghanaian architecture and African strip-woven textiles, especially kente, made famous by his culture the Ewe and Asante of Ghana. Kwami is part of the forthcoming Folkestone Triennial 2020 (postponed to 2021) and is designing a triptych of large stained-glass windows for the new Ghana National Cathedral in Accra designed by Sir David Adjaye OBE.
The Maria Lassnig Prize was originally envisioned by pioneering Austrian artist Maria Lassnig before her death in 2014 at the age of 94, at height of her artistic career. Having achieved recognition only later in life, she hoped to encourage the efforts of artists not yet familiar to the public. Each prize granted in her name carries an award of 50,000 euros and a project organised by a designated institution that has collaborated with the Foundation and a selection committee to choose a winner. In 2017, the inaugural year Cathy Wilkes was awarded the Prize accompanied by an exhibition at the institutional partner MoMA PS1, New York, in 2019 Sheela Gowda was awarded the Prize and exhibition at Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München.
Atta Kwami, Loughborough, Autumn 2020: ‘I am proud to be associated with Maria Lassnig’s legacy. Her late recognition requires us to look again at so many artists whose life work has been overlooked or undervalued. Her formidable and wide-ranging body of work shows that she was an individual who pushed herself to her limits, without the critical recognition to guide her on. The Maria Lassnig Prize 2021 is completely unexpected. I am very happy it has come at this stage of my life. I shall always be humbly grateful for all the people who have supported me; my mother, my wife, my galleries and my friends both inside and outside Ghana. I am glad for myself and for Ghana.’
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries: ‘We are so pleased to collaborate with the Lassnig Foundation who have chosen the Serpentine as the partner institution for the Maria Lassnig Prize 2021. The ethos of the Prize resonates strongly with the Serpentine’s core programming in working with late career artists who deserve wider recognition. This is also a welcome opportunity to celebrate the close friendship we had with Maria Lassnig, and to remember her landmark exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries in 2008, her first in the UK. We warmly congratulate Atta Kwami as the recipient of the next Maria Lassnig Prize who, like Lassnig, is an artist with decades of pioneering work. Kwami’s painting traverses many different forms from canvases to sculptures and structures, and he is an influential art historian and advocate of Ghanaian art. It will be a privilege to work closely with him over the next 18 months on his first major monograph and to develop a public art project. The role of art in public spaces has become increasingly important for the Serpentine as a way to connect differently with audiences during socially distanced times and further our belief in art accessible for all.’
Peter Pakesch, Chairman of the Board of the Maria Lassnig Foundation: ‘The aim of the Maria Lassnig Prize is to honour an important artistic position that should be seen in a broader context. It is always exciting to meet the jury and take an amazing tour d’horizon through oeuvres that have not yet been celebrated in major museums and the mainstream artworld. After many presentations and discussions the big question for the jury arises: which artist should have the opportunity to share their work with new audiences and would benefit from the challenge of a new commission at this stage of their career? On this occasion, painting, a medium close to Maria Lassnig, took centre stage. Atta Kwami is a highly prolific artist, whose core practice lies in expanded notions of painting. In a unique way his work is both based in the visual world of his native Ghana and in reflections on modernism and its universality.’
The jury for the Maria Lassnig Prize 2021:
Melissa Blanchflower, Curator Exhibitions and Public Art, Serpentine Galleries
Rebecca Lewin, Curator, Exhibitions and Design, Serpentine Galleries
Matthias Mühling, Director of Lenbachhaus, Munich and Member of the Board of the Maria Lassnig Foundation
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries, London and Member of the Advisory Board of the Maria Lassnig Foundation
Albert Oehlen, Artist
Peter Pakesch, Chairman of the Board of the Maria Lassnig Foundation
Solo exhibitions are called Maria Lassnig unless otherwise indicated. Subtitles of solo exhibitions are also provided. The group exhibitions as listed here are merely a selection.