Martha Jungwirth (Kunsthalle Düsseldorf)
Gregor Jansen and Alicia Holthausen (Eds.)
Kunsthalle Düsseldorf & Walther und Franz König, 2023
Martha Jungwirth (* 1940 in Vienna) occupies a singular position in Austrian painting with her poetic, abstract watercolours and oil paintings and her gestural style of painting. From 1956 to 1963 she studied at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, and she initially exhibited along with five male colleagues in the artist group Wirklichkeiten. In 1977 she was invited to participate in documenta 6.
After these early successes, for decades she was largely overlooked or ignored by the art world. Meanwhile, she continued to work in her studio in Vienna, far from public attention. Since the group exhibition Schönes Klosterneuburg curated by Albert Oehlen at the Essl Museum in 2010, which featured an entire room dedicated to the artist, international interest in her works has grown.
Today Martha Jungwirth is indisputably the leading representative of the generation between the Viennese Actionists and Franz West, whose studio she took over. Over the past six decades, the artist has developed her very own style, which combines power and concentration with exuberance and emotion and represents a unique approach between abstraction and figuration. This is based on the body and a precise perception of the world around her.
Landscapes, portraits, Goya’s Maja, animals, witches and Lady Gaga, a house, or just a group of written characters, some of which are from antiquity or the time of the pharaohs—Martha Jungwirth’s painting is enormously diverse. Often it appears in an empty field, in an endless space. The artist uses special grounds for her paintings such as cardboard, brown or lined paper, the backs of paintings, old maps, and account books: surfaces that suggest a story, as do the historical subjects from Greek mythology and art history that she includes in her work. And yet, to her it is all ultimately a spot: “a spot is a spot is a spot an intelligent one or a stupid one, nothing else,” as she once said.
Along with installation views from the exhibition, this publication also includes an extensive catalogue raisonné.