Motesiczky (1906–1996) was born into a wealthy, aristocratic Jewish family in Vienna. She was forced to leave when the National Socialists marched into Austria in March 1938. In 1939 she arrived in England, which became her home for the rest of her life. This exhibition explores Motesiczky’s experience of exile. It considers the impact this had on her art and raises broader questions of belonging.
The display brings to life Motesiczky’s family background, artistic training, journey into exile and post-war life in Hampstead, London. To tell this story, the artist’s personal papers, held in Tate Archive’s collections, are shown alongside her paintings. The four people who meant most to Motesiczky feature prominently in the display. She called them her ‘Hauptgötter’ (main gods). They were her mother Henriette, the writer Elias Canetti and the painters Max Beckmann and Oskar Kokoschka – all in exile themselves.
Speaking of her ambitions, Motesiczky said, ‘If you could only paint a single good picture in your lifetime, your life would be worthwhile.’ In a career that spanned over seven decades, she created over three hundred paintings, mainly portraits, self-portraits and still lifes. She faced many personal and professional challenges. Despite them, at her death Motesiczky could be sure to have painted more than a single good picture.
This gallery has been renamed the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Archive Gallery in her honour.
Unless otherwise specified, all works and objects on display: Tate Archive, Presented by the Trustees of the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, March 2012.
Curated by Ines Schlenker, Emma Chambers and Adrian Glew, with assistance from Victoria Jenkins and Nastasia Alberti