Madeline von Foerster’s Reliquaries

Felled Forest Reliquary, 2010. Oil and egg tempera on shaped panel. 30 x 39 x 2 inches; 76 x 99 x 5 cm.

Madeline von Foerster, whose incredible work we’ve previously featured on the blog, and in Issue 02 of Coilhouse Magazine, has just completed a new series of paintings, called Reliquaries.

“This new series of artworks grows out of the artist’s fascination with reliquaries: the jewel-covered statues and treasure chests where remains of sainted persons – from bones, to scraps of clothing, to vials of blood – are enshrined. Old, beautiful, and mysterious, reliquaries often become objects of worship themselves. The impulse to preserve and make precious seems to represent a common human urge, spanning across many cultures, and not only confined to religion: we create reliquaries for vanquished cultures in our Natural History Museums, and living reliquaries, in the form of zoos, for animals all but extinct in the wild.”

The Red Thread, 2010. 48 x 62 inches. Oil and Egg Tempera on Panel.

Consistently, Madeline von Foerster’s oil and egg tempera compositions are technically masterful and emotionally powerful. And she keeps upping her game, refining her message.  Viewing these most recent works, I’m haunted by something she said a couple of years ago in our interview for the magazine:

“I am incredibly pessimistic about the future of this earth. As E.O. Wilson describes, we are hurtling towards “The Age of Loneliness,” the coming time when half of the world’s species will be extinct, and all the magnificent wilderness denuded and torn. Till my dying breath I will rage and fight against that future, but I am only one person…”

She went on to explain that in spite of everything, she still has hope. In her loving depictions of endangered and extinct wildlife, that message of hope is clearly conveyed, along with urgency, and grief.

As jaw-dropping as these pieces appear onscreen, they must be even more astonishing in person, so German comrades, achtung: The Reliquaries series will be showing this winter at the Strychnin Gallery in Berlin, November 12th through December 18th.

Ex Mare, 2010. Oil and egg tempera on shaped panel. 30 x 39 x 2 inches; 76 x 99 x 5 cm.

3 Responses to “Madeline von Foerster’s Reliquaries”

  1. Daniel Says:

    Her work is definitely some of my favorite.

  2. Ransom Notes Says:

    agreed, I love her work. Thanks for the updates Meredith.

  3. A.R. Says:

    Am definitely a fan of her work. These new pieces are lovely, especially the one at the top.