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Martha Jungwirth Biography

Austrian artist Martha Jungwirth's gestural yet controlled abstract paintings are personal explorations into materiality.

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Life

Martha Jungwirth was born in 1940 in Vienna. She graduated from the Academy of Applied Arts, Austria in 1963, where she later taught for a decade between 1967–1977. She is a recipient of several significant awards including the Theodor Körner Prize, Joan Miró Prize, and Grand Austrian State Prize.

Jungwirth co-founded the collective Wirklichkeiten (Realities) with other artists in Vienna. She was the only female member. This collective was formed in part as a response to the art informel movement, which approached art with an improvisational and gestural style and ethos. They were active between 1968–1972 and subsequently exhibited their work at documenta 6 in Kassel in 1977.

Martha Jungwirth Artworks

Over six decades, Jungwirth has created a body of work that approaches abstraction through the body and the self. Often written in contrast to minimalist and conceptual painting at the time, Jungwirth's paintings have an obvious reference to the self through her autobiographical approach.

Jungwirth has described her work as 'diaristic', referencing her own personal memories, travels, and political events that serve as inspiration. She has also talked of her non-figurative paintings as existing and working 'before spoken language', 'before memory', and 'before the obtrusiveness of objects'.

Jungwirth has worked in a variety of scales, oscillating between using oil and watercolour paints. She utilises a varied range of colour in her work – from vibrant compositions to more muted and understated fields. Jungwirth's paintings are inherently gestural and incorporate her own physical, bodily interventions such as footprints, finger marks and scratches. Her work approaches the fluidity of motion and mark making, deliberately avoiding the 'noble' and 'embellished'.

An essential element to Jungwirth's work is her exploration into materiality. She has worked extensively with watercolour on paper, thinking through its transparent qualities, as well as its smoothness when smeared on paper. Her investigations into oil paint are interrogations into its density and compactness. Apart from her choice of pigment, Jungwirth also places importance on the surfaces she paints on. She has previously painted on paper, cardboard and canvas, and has often used the backs of old paintings, referencing their specific lived histories.

Many of Jungwirth's paintings are untitled. Both sparse and energetic in their composition, these works are snapshots of outbursts of energy that reverberate through the canvases. Each painting, while brimming with movement and gestural strokes, is self-contained as Jungwirth welcomes emptiness and gaps in her process. When speaking about painting, she says that the construction of a piece continues as long as she has the strength and energy. When 'something new has formed', Jungworth's painting is completed, despite any blank spaces.

In 2019, Jungwirth was selected by museum in progress in cooperation with Wiener Staatsoper to create the opera house's safety curtain. Her work, The Trojan Horse (2019), which features an impressionistic painting of a black and red horse, was on display in the theatre for their 2019/20 season.

Exhibitions

Martha Jungwirth is a celebrated artist. She has held major retrospective exhibitions at Kunsthalle Düsseldorf and Austrian-based spaces such as Kunsthalle Krems and Museum Liaunig. She has held solo exhibitions at Museum Moderner Kunst, Germany; Museo Civico di Brunico, Italy; and Museum der Moderne Salzburg.

Her work has been included in group exhibitions at mumok, Vienna; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Mexico; and European Parliament, Brussels. She has been collected by institutions such as mumok; Long Museum, Shanghai; and Centre Pompidou.

Arianna Mercado | Ocula | 2023

Martha Jungwirth
featured artworks

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Schiff (aus der Serie: Paros) by Martha Jungwirth contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Martha Jungwirth Schiff (aus der Serie: Paros), 2015 Water colour on paper
104 x 140 cm
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Ohne Titel (aus der Serie: Kambodscha) by Martha Jungwirth contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Martha Jungwirth Ohne Titel (aus der Serie: Kambodscha), 2004 Water colour on paper
208 x 103 cm
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Untitled (figure ante landscape) by Martha Jungwirth contemporary artwork painting
Martha Jungwirth Untitled (figure ante landscape), 1989 Aquarell auf Papier
70 x 100 cm
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untitled by Martha Jungwirth contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Martha Jungwirth untitled, 2009 Watercolour on paper
105 x 135 cm
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Ohne Titel by Martha Jungwirth contemporary artwork painting
Martha Jungwirth Ohne Titel, 1987 Water colour on paper
29.5 x 41.5 cm
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Ohne Titel by Martha Jungwirth contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Martha Jungwirth Ohne Titel, 2015–2016 34 x 46.5 cm Galerie Krinzinger Request Price & Availability
Das Tier by Martha Jungwirth contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Martha Jungwirth Das Tier, 2020 Oil on paper on canvas
114 x 242 cm
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Ohne Titel by Martha Jungwirth contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Martha Jungwirth Ohne Titel, 2004 Watercolour on paper
208 x 103 cm
Galerie Krinzinger Request Price & Availability
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