The Wisdom of Madeline von Foerster

“In The Garden” by Madeline von Foerster

I believe there is still time to make a new myth. There is still a chance for imagination to rise to power.
~Madeline von Foerster

The mystical paintings of Madeline von Foerster invoke names like Van Eyck, Brueghel, Bosch, Remedios Varo, Ernst Fuchs. It’s vibrant, multi-layered work, filled with Occult and Medieval symbolism and rendered in the painstaking egg tempera oil tradition of the Flemish Old Masters. Ageless, yet thematically timely, scholarly but always deeply personal, hers is simply some of the most moving work in the medium that I’ve seen from anyone of my generation.

I remember the first time I viewed the following self-portrait at a gallery showing in midtown NYC:

“Self Portrait (Trepanation)” 2005 by Madeline von Foerster

It’s a fairly large piece, 34″ x 42″ (not including the lavish frame, which she constructed and painted as well). If you’re familiar with the technique of egg tempera, closely examining a painting like this can be mind-boggling… all of those smoothly-placed, minuscule brush strokes, patiently layered, culminating in subjects that can only be described as having an unearthly inner glow. The enigmatic subject matter of trepanation thrilled me as well.

It was your typical overcrowded NYC gallery opening. Plenty of cheap wine and fabulously dressed people, all talking a little too loudly over one another. Then there was Madeline, standing off to one side, as gracious, elegant and mysterious as one of her paintings. Since that time, I’ve come to know her as one of those exceedingly rare examples of a person whose life reflects purely in their art.

Some of her recent work is currently up in a group show at the Strychnin Gallery in London. Take a peek at it and some other pieces behind the cut.

“Dove” 2007 by Madeline von Foerster

“Essentia Exaltata”, 2006 by Madeline von Foerster

“La Femme Grave Se Grave” 2005 by Madeline von Foerster

“Mother and Child (Portrait of an Endangered Drill)” 2003 by Madeline von Foerster

undated sketchbook page. Madeline von Foerster

5 Responses to “The Wisdom of Madeline von Foerster”

  1. Chesney Says:

    HOLY CRAP. Her work is amazing, and I’m totally jealous and intimidated and inspired all at the same time!

  2. Old masters style + modern mythic symbols « Spiralbound Pixels Says:

    […] about her at Coilhouse. […]

  3. Madeline Says:

    Dear Meredith and Coilhouse,

    Thank you so much for this wonderful review in your amazing magazine! (I can’t wait to have the print version of Coilhouse in my hands, but you will probably have to take it away from me because I’ll want to lick it.) Your magazine is simply stunning! And I truly appreciate and am honored by the inclusion. Love, Madeline

  4. Trevor Says:

    I first saw her work in the Infernal Proteus compilation (which is absolutely brilliant by the way, be sure to look it up). I later found her work in an art magazine that I can’t recall, then again on the internet through a directory, all on separate occasions, totally unintentional. I’ve been entranced each time, in my mind there isn’t much better in the art world.

  5. Claudia Says:

    Its a fantastic discoverd for me, wow!