Monday, July 5, 2010

Greta Freist

 Greta Freist, L'éléphant indien, 1942

Greta Freist (1909-1993) studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna with Rudolf Bacher and Rudolf Jettmar. Later, she shared a studio in Vienna with painter Gottfried Goebel, her life partner, and the writer Heimito von Doderer which was also a literary meeting place. Greta Freist emigrated with Goebel in 1936 to Paris, where she had her first exhibition at the Salon d'Automne. In 1950, after a difficult time during the war, she co-founded in her studio the French section of the International Art Club. Greta Freist experimented with different styles: Magical Realism (The Dancer, 1938), Surealism (The Dove, 1939), and, in her later years, Abstraction. Greta Freist participated in numerous exhibitions in Paris. In Vienna she was represented at the 1956 exhibition of the Vienna Secession.

 Greta Freist, The Dancer, 1938

In this wonderful self-portrait, Greta Freist presents herself as an expressive, seductive woman, but also as a potential commodity, untouchable, but the prism of desires. Greta Freist painted it in the studio of fellow painter Arnulf Neuwirth. The following episode is reported: While painting Greta Freist was standing naked before a mirror when she heard snoring-like noises from the room above. Neuwirth had returned unnoticed and Greta Freist had to ask him to stay in bed and not to look down. She extremely loved this picture, and sold it only in 1954.

 Greta Freist, En voyage, 1938

Elias Canetti described Greta Freist as "a deep black, provocatively beautiful person who looked so seductive as an early Indian Yakshini" and Heimito von Doderer added : "Her pretty face contained two animal eyes, large and dark, as if two tunnels were leading into it, two tunnels which seemed to be designed glossy inside."

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