Maria Lassnig (b.1919, Austria) has always focused on self-portraiture in works that she calls “body-awareness paintings”. Her work has been exhibited in the Austrian Pavilion at the 1980 Venice Biennale, two editions of Documenta (1982 and 1997) and the Eighth Gwangju Biennale. As curator Massimiliano Gioni has said, “Lassnig, at ninety-three years old, represents a unique example of obstinacy and independence that deserves to be celebrated with the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement."

Turin-based Marisa Merz (b.1926, Italy) began her career in the late 60's. A central figure in the Arte Povera movement of Italian art, Merz has already been awarded the Special Jury Prize at the 2001 Venice Biennale, and also participated in the 1998 edition.

In recent years the awards have gone to Elaine Sturtevant and Franz West (2011), Yoko Ono and John Baldessari (2009), and Malick Sidibé (2007).

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Maria Lassnig, You or Me, 2005

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Marisa Merz, Senza Titolo, 1966