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Venice Biennale Golden Lions to Maria Lassnig and Marisa Merz

The board of the 55th Venice Biennale, at the suggestion of curator Massimiliano Gioni, announced yesterday that Maria Lassnig and Marisa Merz will both receive Golden Lions for lifetime achievement on June 1 during the opening ceremony in Venice.

Maria Lassnig (b.1919, Austria) has always focused on self-portraiture in what she calls “body-awareness paintings.” Her work was exhibited at the Austrian Pavilion during the 1980 Venice Biennale, two editions of Documenta (1982 and 1997) and the Eighth Gwangju Biennale. “Lassnig, at ninety-three years old, represents a unique example of obstinacy and independence that deserves to be celebrated with the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement,” said Gioni in a press release.

Turin-based Marisa Merz (b.1926, Italy) began her career in the late ‘60s. A central figure in postwar Italian art and the Arte Povera movement, Merz was awarded in 2001 the Special Prize of the Jury at the 49th Venice Biennale, and also participated in the 1998 edition.

Recent Lifetime Achievement awards have gone to Sturtevant and Franz West (2011), Yoko Ono and John Baldessari (2009), and Malick Sidibé (2007).