Marie-Jo Lafontaine

  • Lost Paradise, 2001 Dance the World
  • Dance the World Lost Paradise
  • Lost Paradise Dark PoolDark Pool
  • Les Bains de St.-Josse Les Baigneueses
  • Effroi-La chute exhibition view: Lost Paradise
  • Banana Kisses and Frozen Margaritas
  • Print on Diasec and Monochrome
120 x 229 cm
  • 2008, video installation
  • 2008, video installation
  • 2001, Print auf Diasec, 182 x 147 cm
  • 2001, Print auf Diasec, 182 x 147 cm
  • 2008, video installation, 300 x 225, 330 x 16 cm
  • 2007, photography, 109,5 x 109,5 x 3,7 cm
  • 2008, photography, 243,4 x 185,4 x 4 cm
  • 2008, photography, 168,4 x 119,4 cm
  • 2003, photography on Diasec, 185 x 360 cm

Born 1950 in Antwerp, Belgium, Marie-Jo Lafontaine has become one of the most renowned contemporary female artists. From 1975 – 1979 she studied at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture et des Arts Visuels, “La Chambre”, in Brussels. She spent the year 1985 at MIT in Boston. In 1987 Marie-Jo Lafontaine took part in the exhibition Documenta, where her video-sculpture “Les larmes d’acier” (The steel tears) marked the artist’s international breakthrough. In 1996 she began to collaborate with Todor Todoroff in creating interactive audio-installations. She was appointed “Ambassadeur culturel de la Flandre” (Cultural Ambassador of Flanders) in 1998 and, in 2006, she won the arena-project “I love the world” on the occasion of the opening of the World Soccer Championships in Frankfurt am Main.

In her videos and in her photographic works – typically a photo with a broad monochrome strip at the bottom serving as a visualisation of mental projection – Marie-Jo Lafontaine makes comments on current issues of the times, but not in the same way a news commentator would, of course. Hers is an aesthetic, an artistic formulation of a position, convinced that love and death, illusion and reality, as well as reason and passion, are conflicting concepts belonging, after all, inseparably together. Inspired by Nietzsche and Rilke, she also stresses the aspect of the sublime in her powerful, confrontational images. (1)

Her imagery is a balance between the individual and the collective. She said in an interview, “I look at the world and contrast this view with my memories. Also take fear, a dose of the tragic, a pinch of fascination, a little fragility, some violence, and the energy of the moment – all this is necessary to get away from the blank sheet. I write and I draw and I am not looking for an image, rather for an idea, and that is the origin of the unspeakable.” (2)

This leads her to the search for truth behind all deception, be it in life, or in the media. Her work is also about the exploration of the connections and relations between man, nature and technology, the character of the conditions of our existence, the possibilities we have for winning or failing.


Her videos, or, better, video sculptures and installations do not present the viewer with a duplication of reality, rather they are stage plays with chances of insight and an understanding of both life and art. Marie-Jo Lafontaine said: “When the subliminal becomes obvious, that is a stroke of luck. It is important, because it hasn’t been said. What’s hidden under the threshold is the apparent part of the other one must not take possession of.” (3)

(1) See Christiane Dressler: Bedingungslose Strenge und Schönheit. Die belgische Künstlerin Marie Jo Lafontaine ist eine der bedeutendsten Medienkünstlerinnen unserer Zeit, in: Die Welt, 11.07.2009

(2) See Gerhard Charles Rump, "Fotografie ist intimer als Kino". Marie Jo Lafontaine über Erinnerungen, Wiederholungen und die Kraft der Schönheit,in: Die Welt, 01.08.2009

(3) ibid.

Gallery Exhibitions

Ein Hauch von Eden, 27.11.2010 - 31.01.2011, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie

Marie-Jo Lafontaine - Neue Arbeiten, 14.05.2009 - 15.08.2009, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie

nature: attitude, 08.03.2008 - 31.05.2008, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie

Zeitschnitt, 14.01.2006 - 14.03.2006, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie

Marie-Jo Lafontaine: Videoinstallationen - Fotografische Werke, 29.04.2005 - 30.06.2005, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie

Museum Exhibitions

Künstlerräume - until Dec. 31, 2016 - Weserburg- Museum of Modern Art

Macht und Gewalt - Ohnmacht und Widerstand - Photographs of the DZ BANK art collection,
Sep. 20, 2015 - Nov. 22, 2015, Neuer Kunstverein Aschaffenburg e.V., Aschaffenburg

Marie-Jo Lafontaine: Victoria/Liquid Crystals, Sep. 5, 2014 – Oct. 10, 2014, Lempertz, Brussels, Belgium

Das schwache Geschlecht – Neue Mannsbilder in der Kunst, Oct. 18, 2013 – Feb. 9, 2014, Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland

Blütenzauber, until Dec. 8, 2013, Museum Bad Arolsen, Schloss Bad Arolsen

Changing Perspectives-15 years of ECB´s art collection, Sep. 13, 2012 – Nov. 30, 2012, ECB, Frankfurt

Enfant en Danger - Enfant Dangereux, Gevaarlijk jong, Oct. 1, 2011 - May 20, 2012, Museum Dr. Guislain, Gent, Belgium

Asche und Gold. Eine Weltreise, Jan. 28, 2012 – April 22, 2012, MARTa Herford

Selected Works, Sep. 12, 2011 - March 16, 2012, Huize Minne - Sint Martens Latem, Belgium