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Marie-Louise von Motesiczky

Tate renames gallery in honor of artist Marie-Louise von Motesiczky

Marie-Louise von Motesiczky
Marie-Louise von Motesiczky ‘Still Life with Sheep,’ 1938 © Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust

LONDON – The newly named Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Archive Gallery at Tate Britain will open on Oct. 7 with a unique display of over 350 items, drawing on the personal papers of émigré painter Marie-Louise von Motesiczky (1906-1996), as well as related Tate Archive collections and paintings. The display is part of the regular six-monthly changing program in the Archive Gallery.

Born into a wealthy Jewish family in Vienna, on her mother’s side, Motesiczky left school in 1920, and subsequently attended art classes in the Hague, Vienna, Paris and Berlin. In 1927/8 she was invited by Max Beckmann to join his master class at the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main. She and her mother, Henriette, left Vienna immediately after Hitler’s annexation of Austria in March 1938. At the beginning of 1939 they made their way to England, which became their home for the rest of their lives. Marie-Louise’s brother Karl remained in Vienna; he was arrested in October 1942 for anti-Nazi resistance and sent to Auschwitz in February 1943, where he died of typhus four months later.

Following her ambition “If you could only paint a single good picture in your lifetime, your life would be worthwhile”, Motesiczky created over 300 paintings, mainly portraits, self-portraits and still-lifes, in a career that spanned over seven decades. Many of these works now hang in major public galleries, including Tate, throughout the world.

The new display marks 80 years since the artist’s arrival in the UK and visualizes the experience of exile, exploring its impact on Motesiczky’s art. It brings to life Motesiczky’s family background, their network of friendships and journey into exile. It also looks at the circle of fellow émigrés she moved in especially in Hampstead and her relationships with the two most important people in her life: the writer Elias Canetti (1905–1994) with whom she was emotionally involved for three decades, and her mother Henriette (1882-1978) who became Marie-Louise’s most remarkable subject. After Marie-Louise’s death her struggle to gain artistic recognition was taken over by the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust.

The Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust has supported Tate Archives since 2012, when the personal papers of Marie-Louise von Motesiczky were presented to Tate. In addition to the major gift renaming the Archive Gallery and the associated display, the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust is supporting Tate Archive’s Émigré Art Archives project – a three-year cataloging and digitization project, comprising the professional papers of J.P. Hodin, the personal papers of David Mayor and his wider Viennese family, and the sketchbooks of Jankel Adler.