new-york

Maria Lassnig, Selbst mit Meerschweinchen (Self with Guinea Pig), 2000–2001, oil on canvas, 49 1/4 x 39 3/8".

Maria Lassnig

Petzel Gallery | West 18th Street

Maria Lassnig, Selbst mit Meerschweinchen (Self with Guinea Pig), 2000–2001, oil on canvas, 49 1/4 x 39 3/8".

“I do not aim for the ‘big emotions’ when I’m working,” Maria Lassnig explained in these pages two years ago, “but concentrate on small feelings: sensations in the skin or in the nerves, all of which one feels.” The real trick to pursuing such fleeting, ephemeral “sensations,” the painter goes on to say, is by notating them with some fidelity while nonetheless acknowledging their utter strangeness and instability. In other words: how to depict that which outruns depiction? “Well—a feeling doesn’t have edges, and you can’t quantify it.”

Nonetheless, the ninety-one-year-old Austrian artist has spent a lifetime articulating what might be called affective tremors: the crisscrossing connections between exterior and interior. If such a description, however, gives the impression that Lassnig traffics in the subtle and the slight, her works could not seem more antithetical to this.

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.