Marie-Louise Von Motesiczky (German) Hardcover – 31 May 2006
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This is the first major publication in English dedicated to her work. -- The Jewish Chronicle, 18 August 2006
On the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of the artist's birth, this catalogue presents for the first time an overview of Marie-Louise von Motesiczky's paintings in an elegant volume of full colour reproductions accompanied by illuminating commentary. Born in Vienna, she studied with Max Beckmann, who became a significant influence on the young artist. Later, in exile in London, Motesiczky grew close to Oskar Kokoschka and became acquainted with some of the leading intellectuals of the twentieth century, including Elias Canetti, with whom she shared a long and intimate relationship. The paintings and drawings in this book explore the artist's transition from the edgy realism of her early years to the softer and more poetic paintings of her later work. Her portraits, for which she is most famous, include compelling self-examinations as well as a moving series devoted to her mother. Essays on Motesiczky's youth in Vienna, her friendship with Beckmann, and her time in London provide crucial background to a unique and fascinating artist whose wider recognition is long overdue.See all Product description
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Prestel's bilingual, English/German, book was published in 2006 to mark an exhibition of the artist's work held at Tate Liverpool, Museum Giersch, Frankfurt-am-Main, the Wien Museum, Vienna, and the Southampton City Art Gallery in 2006-07.
The essays in the catalogue are "Marie-Louise von Motesiczky: An Outstanding Artist in Troubled Times" by Ines Schlenker; "The Vienna Years: Family Background and First Paintings", Jill Lloyd; "Marie-Louise von Motesiczky: Max Beckmann and Frankfurt", Birgit Sander, and "`But an emigre....not at all': Marie-Louise von Motesiczky in England", Ines Schlenker. These essays are complemented by 52 illustrations. Ines Shlenker compiled the Catalogue and also developed the Chronology which contains contemporary photographs. The book also contains a Select Bibliography. The translations which have admirable clarity are by Willfried Baatz, Sylvia Hofer, Timothy Jones and Jennifer Taylor-Gaida. The 89 works in the exhibition are reproduced in colour as full/half page plates.
Motesiczky wanted to be an artist from an early age, but her meeting with Max Beckmann was the key event in making it a reality. She had a studio from 1926 and by the late 1930s, when she left Austria, she was much less influenced by Beckmann. Later, in wartime London she developed a close artistic friendship with Oskar Kokoschka. Her relationship with these two influential painters helped to develop her focus on figurative work. Her deepest paintings are of people she chose to paint, relatives and those for whom life was a struggle.
In England, she looked after her mother Henriette, who was the focus of a series of paintings, uncompromising yet touching, which charted the onset of old age and infirmity. After her mother's death in 1978 aged 96, Motesiczky lived alone. Her most important friendship was with the novelist Elias Canetti to whom she was very close for 30 years and whom she painted several times. His last portrait was painted in 1993, shortly before he died, and is the National Portrait Gallery.
Motesiczky never needed to sell her paintings, and preferred to keep them around her. Whilst she she was ambivalent about exhibitions, they were uncomfortable experiences. This limited her public recognition.
Of especial interest are the artist's self-portraits (from 1926, 1929, 1930, 1937, 1938, 1942, 1959, 1965 and 1993), a wide range of still lifes and, above all, her portraits of her family (her brother, Karl, remained in Austria but died in Auschwitz in 1943 having been deported the previous year for helping Jews escape to Switzerland).
However, it is the unflinching portraits of her mother that are her great memorial. As Schlenker writes "The series of portraits of her mother all imbued with easy intimacy and moving frankness, is probably unique in the history of art. It reflects the profound relationship between the painter and her model, and vividly chronicles the inexorable nature of her mother's gradual decline". In 1979, the year after her mother's death, the artist painted "a posthumous memorial to her mother in "The Greenhouse". Surrounded by her dogs, the frail old woman carefully rakes up the leaves in her garden, while the setting sun is reflected on the wall of the greenhouse".
The presentation of this book and the artist's portraits determined my 5* ranking. The majority of the paintings are held by the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, London.