The artist Martha Jungwirth receives the Grand Austrian State Prize for the year 2021. This was announced by the State Secretary for Culture Andrea Mayer (Greens) on Friday. The republic’s highest award for an artistically outstanding life’s work is endowed with 30,000 euros and is awarded on the proposal of the Austrian Art Senate. The award ceremony will take place next Monday (November 15) in the Leopold Museum.
As one of the most recent works, the now 81-year-old designed the Iron Curtain of the Vienna State Opera for the 2019/20 season, which she gave a “Trojan horse” on 176 square meters. The artist, who was born in Vienna in 1940, became known in 1968 with a joint exhibition with Wolfgang Herzig, Kurt Kocherscheidt, Peter Pongratz and Franz Ringel, when, as a loose group “Realities” in the Secession, they took a stand against the Informel. Nevertheless, Jungwirth was always an exception in this group of artists, as her work was always located on the border between abstract and representational painting.
Her great love has always been watercolor, but oil paintings can also be found in Jungwirth’s internationally recognized work. In 2018, her most recent works were also on view in a retrospective at the Albertina: the sculptural oil works were devoted to the unrest in Turkey or the work of Vladimir Nabokov. Jungwirth’s work is a constant “questioning of surfaces and lines”, as curator Antonia Hoerschelmann put it in a nutshell at the time.