Marianna Schmidt


Exhibition Catalogue Cover: MARIANNA SCHMIDT, When You Are Silent, It Speaks 1991, mixed media on paper (38.5 cm x 28.2 cm). Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Belgium

I have a bad habit of visiting exhibitions at the end of their run but my excuse this time was that I learned about these very late. Over the summer there were three concurrent exhibitions of work by Marianna Schmidt around the Greater Vancouver region, but by the time I knew about them, only one was still up. As a printmaker, I would have loved to have seen her prints at the Burnaby Art Gallery. However, I was very pleased to have seen a large body of Schmidt’s mixed media works at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam (a suburb of Vancouver) on its last day and last hour!

Her work went through many styles but for me her most powerful and moving works are those that remind me of the German Expressionists.

I met Marianna Schmidt many years ago when she was a visiting artist at our studio. Her personality and her prints made a strong impression on me that I’ve not forgotten. I always wanted to learn more about her life and work so I was eager to buy the excellent exhibition catalogue, written by Robin Laurence, Darrin J. Martens, Bill Jeffries and Ellen van Eijnsbergen – and have already started to read it. The inside fold has a perfect summary for those who don’t know this artist:

Marianna Schmidt (1918 – 2005), who lived and worked in Vancouver, British Columbia from the mid-1950’s until her death in May 2005, was an accomplished and idiosyncratic modernist. Hungarian by birth, she fled her country as a refugee in 1944, and spent years in displace persons’ camps on Austria, Germany and England before eventually migrating to Canada. Not surprisingly, the most persistent feelings in her art are those of loneliness, alienation and painful dislocation. Whether depicted in prints, drawings, paintings or collages, her twisted, distorted and fragmented figures are often stranded against featureless grounds, huddles in inhospitable rooms or suspended above place maps and generic landscapes. The crisis they evoke is both universal and particular.
Still, humour, irony, pathos, celebration, and a keen interest in the human circus also find expression in Marianna Schmidt’s art. This publication is the first posthumous attempt to honour her entire career and to place it within the context of her life and times.

the Evergreen Cultural Centre page and Photo Gallery
Review by Ann Rosenberg with more photos of work
Carnaval Photos and Paintings at SFU
Article in the Straight
Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (SMAK) in Ghent, Belgium which has a large collection of Marianna Schmidt’s works, loaned for this exhibition

September 18, 2007 in Art Exhibitions, Books, Other artists by Marja-Leena