Natalia LL (1937–2022) – Artforum International

Polish conceptual artist Natalia LL, whose groundbreaking works of the 1960s, 70s and 80s criticized consumerism, advertising and the subjugating portrayal of women in pornography, died on August 12 at the age of eighty-five years, according to his Instagram account. “Combining irony and meditation, she questioned not only the intrinsic value of female sensuality and beauty, but also the perception that art created by female artists is lyrical or non-confrontational,” Marek Bartelek wrote in a 1994 issue of art forum. Often brash and provocative, Natalia LL’s art has repeatedly been subjected to censorship, whether due to the social mores of the time, such as early in her career, or a repressive government, such as we saw it more recently. The 2019 removal of a work by Natalia LL from the National Museum in Warsaw sparked nationwide protests and brought global attention to Poland’s increasingly censored government.

Natalia LL was born Natalia Lach in Żywiec, Poland in 1937 and grew up in the southern industrial town of Bielsko-Biała. After obtaining his Msc. (the equivalent of an MS) from the State College of Fine Arts (now the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Arts) in Wrocław in 1963, she graduated from the Association of Polish Art Photographers. In 1970, with Zbigniew Dłubak and Andrzej Lachowicz, she founded the PERMAFO collective, which the trio directed with a gallery of the same name until 1981 and which established itself as a benchmark for the Polish avant-garde. (She would marry Lachowicz in 1971, taking the surname Lach-Lachowicz, which she soon shortened to LL.) By 1975 she had become involved in the international feminist movement and was producing some of her best known and most popular works. most controversial, among them the notorious “Consumer Art” series, 1972-1975, which depicts the artist and his peers suggestively consuming – and in some cases spitting or drooling – foods such as bananas , sausages, melons and ice cream.

At the end of the 1970s, following a serious illness, the artist turned away from consumption and pornography to turn to mythological subjects. “While Natalia LL was internationally recognized as an uncompromising Eastern Bloc feminist who introduced sensual imagery into performance art, she should be reclaimed first and foremost as a conceptual artist who moved beyond the analytical paradigm and essentialist towards the realm of dreams, emotions and desires,” said Natalia Sielewicz, curator and art historian at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, upon learning of the artist’s death. “For example, his video performance Artificial Reality [1976], Pyramid [1979]and Support points [1980] conceptual art synthesized with cosmist and shamanic practices. Her many attempts to visualize the intimate and the unconscious, which she understood as operations on signs and meanings, were the result of rational and objectified actions. Natalia LL subjected them to “existential verifications”, creating art that can perform cognitive functions and is rooted in deeply intimate life experiences. »

From 2004 to 2013 Natalia LL was a lecturer at the University of Fine Arts in Poznań. She was awarded the Silver Medal for Merit in Culture – Gloria Artis in 2007, and in 2013 she was awarded the Katarzyna Kobro Prize, an award given by artists to artists. His work is held in the collections of the International Center of Photography, New York; the National Museum of Modern Art, Paris; the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague; the Ludwig Museum, Cologne; Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf; and the national museums in Gdańsk-Oliwa, Poznan, Warsaw and Wrocław, among other institutions around the world.


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