Madeline von Foerster

Madeline von Foerster


“Madeline von Foerster is a very gifted and highly original artist, who brings new imagery and a novel approach to conservation — which we need.” – Edward O. Wilson

To create her unique paintings, Madeline von Foerster (born in 1973) uses a five-century-old mixed technique of oil and egg tempera, developed by the Flemish Renaissance Masters. Although linked stylistically to the past, her paintings are urgently relevant to the Anthropocene, exploring the human relationship to nature with such themes as deforestation, wildlife trafficking, and human-caused extinction.

Von Foerster’s artworks are in public and private collections worldwide, including the Nevada Museum of Art, the Whatcom Museum, and the City Museum of Cologne. Her work has been featured in numerous publications, including “100 Painters of Tomorrow” (Thames and Hudson, 2014), and an eight-page feature in Germany’s “Art” Magazine. She was also the subject of a television portrait on ARTE’s “Metropolis,” broadcast in Germany and France. Born in San Francisco, von Foerster studied art in California, Germany, and Austria. After fifteen years in New York City, she now resides in Germany with her husband.

Artist Statement

Executed in the oil and egg tempera mische technique developed by the Flemish Masters, these paintings allude to Renaissance sources in both method and style. A strong influence from the School of Fontainebleau loans an aura of mystery and otherworldliness to the artworks. The paintings often resemble Wunderkammern – Enlightenment era “cabinets of curiosities,” where the wonders of nature were collected and displayed. Surrealistic elements also often occur, though in the service of meaning and metaphor, rather than for oddity’s sake.

Meaning and beauty are the twin impulses expressed in the work, with neither sacrificed to the other. Concepts are developed and drafted in detail, often involving weeks of research and drawing for a single painting. Flora and fauna, which appear in nearly every painting, are rendered with reverence and exactitude. Photographic references are always interpolated through the filter of the artistic process, being drawn via eye alone — never projected or traced — which adds to a visual impression of timelessness.

In subject matter, however, the work is staked firmly to the present day. Humanity’s relationship with nature provides an impassioned narrative, with such topics as deforestation and human-caused extinction sounding a recurring thematic knell. The ironic detachment of much contemporary art is challenged, in favor of intimacy, knowledge, and connection. The artworks could be described as “living” still-lifes, which intentionally use the motifs of that genre to explore our assumptions about ownership and objectification of nature. But on a deeper level, they are visual altars for our imperiled natural world.


Solo Exhibitions

2020: Nature Vive, Christuskirche, Cologne
2011: The Golden Toad, Roq La Rue Gallery, Seattle
2010: Reliquaries, Strychnin Gallery, Berlin
2008: Waldkammer, Strychnin Gallery, Berlin
2006: Desires Distilled, Fuse Gallery, Manhattan, NY

Selected Group Exhibitions

Anatomy of a Collection: Recent Acquisitions and Promised Gifts. Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA
Spring Surreal, Stone Sparrow Gallery, NYC
L.A. Art Show. Courtesy Copro Nason Gallery

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters. Museo de las Artes Universidad de Guadalajara
BLAB! Copro Nason Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Fêlures et Lumière, Atelier Gustave, Paris

After Audubon: Art, Observation, and Natural Science. Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV
Endangered Species: Artists on the Front Line of Biodiversity. Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA
Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters. Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada
Maske und Maskerade. Bernd and Gisela Rosenheim Foundation, Groß-Umstadt, Germany
Aquamarine. Roq La Rue Gallery, Seattle, WA

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters. Minneapolis Institute of Art
Special Exhibition of Biodiversity. Chia-Yi Municipal Museum, Taiwan

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters. Los Angeles County Museum of Art

100 Painters of Tomorrow Book Release Exhibition. Christie’s, London
100 Painters of Tomorrow. Beers Contemporary Gallery, London

The Art of the Obsessions Collective. Zebrastraat, Ghent, Belgium
Otherworld. Roq La Rue Gallery, Seattle
Die Wunderkammer: Objects of Virtue. Republic Worldwide, NYC
The Armory Show, NYC. Courtesy Richard Heller Gallery
Illustrative 2013. Direktorenhaus, Belin

Art Miami, Courtesy Dean Project Gallery, NYC
Freak Antique: Contemporary Art Curios. Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts
Lush Life 4. Roq La Rue Gallery, Seattle
Visionaries. Queensborough Community College Museum
Death and the Maiden. Roq La Rue Gallery, Seattle

Obsessions: Artists of Extreme Interest. Curated by John Zorn. Cavin-Morris Gallery, NYC
Lush Life 3. Roq La Rue Gallery, Seattle
Art 21 Fair. Cologne, Germany

Art 21 Fair. Cologne, Germany
Draw. Museo de la Cuidad de Mexico, Mexico City
Scope Art Fair, Basel, Switzerland
Lush Life II. Roq La Rue Gallery, Seattle

Art 21 Fair, Cologne, Germany
Contemporary Icons: Tempera. Westfield State College, MA
Whaleless. Civic Museum, Reggio Emilia, Italy
Lush Life. Roq La Rue Gallery, Seattle.

Art 21 Fair, Cologne, Germany.
Ab Ovo: Selected Painters in Egg Tempera. Clement Gallery, Troy, NY

Art 21 Cologne, Germany.
Kings, Queens, and Childhood Dreams. Strychnin Gallery, London.

Art of the New Movement. Pop Art Studios, Miami FL Curated by Francesco LoCastro
The Inner Eye: Selected Works from the Society for Art of Imagination. InterArt Gallery, New York City
Sacred Geometry. OnSix Gallery, San Francisco. Curated by David D’Andrea