The Colombian painter and video artist Karen Lamassonne was born in New York in 1954. She came to Colombia as a child but returned to the United States in the late 1960s, when she studied with the artist Charles Garoian (b. 1943). From 1969 until 1971 Lamassonne also studied painting and printmaking at Foothill College in Los Altos, California. In 1973 she furthered her studies in painting when she trained under David Manzur (b. 1929) in Bogotá. After spending almost two years in Europe in the mid-1970s, Lamassonne returned to Colombia, where she began the watercolor series Baños (Bathrooms, 1978–81), depicting the artist in intimate scenes. These works did not enjoy public acclaim but did receive the support of the influential Colombian curator Miguel González, which led to exhibitions in Bogotá, Cali, and Medellín.
Concurrent with her visual practice, in the early 1980s she began working in various fields, such as editing, art direction, set and costume design, and film acting. A significant experience for her was the work she did as artistic director on the film Pura sangre (1982), directed by Luis Ospina. For this 35mm film Lamassonne created the storyboard and learned the process of filmmaking from beginning to post-production. This was also a time when film and video coexisted—video being a tool that allowed directors to record rehearsals before finally shooting in film. From this period on, her painterly practice and her experience working in film and video would converge in what became her storyboard series, presented at the 8th Salón Atenas in Bogotá in 1982. For this exhibition Lamassonne painted four storyboards, made of twenty-four drawings, each in honor of a Colombian artist, titled Veinticuatro cuadros por segundo (Twenty-four frames per second). She also presented her first video, Secretos delicados (Delicate secrets, 1982), which was followed by Ruido (Noise, 1984), made in New York. Her work from the late 1980s and 1990s varies in medium and can be divided into two series. The first, Homenaje a Cali (Tribute to Cali), a city where she lived between the late 1970s and early 1990s, constitutes a collection of works depicting a dreamy and erotic vision of Cali, inspired by the science fiction film Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958). The second series, in mixed media, Encuentros rehechos (Remade findings), was a look at Italy through its landscapes and theaters.
Lamassonne has participated in group shows such as the 2nd Salón Nacional de Arte Joven (1977) at the Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia and 4th Bienal Americana de Artes Gráficas (1981) at the Museo de Arte Moderno, both in Cali, and the Biennale Internazionale dell'Arte Contemporanea (2003) in Florence. Since 1990 Lamassonne has exhibited in galleries and art spaces in Atlanta, where she lives and works.
Selected Solo Exhibitions
1980 Baños, Galería Belarca, Bogotá
1980 Baños, Galería lriarte, Medellín, Colombia
1989 Pinturas, Museo de Arte Moderno, Cali, Colombia
1991 Pecados mortales, Galería Arte Moderno, Cali, Colombia
1993 Encuentros rehechos, Galería Belarca, Bogotá
de Ortega, Melba. "El erotismo de Karen Lamassonne." El País, September 24, 1975.
González, Miguel. "Pinacoteca: Los baños de Karen Lamassonne." El Semanario 182 (November 18, 1979): 11.
"Karen Lamassonne." YouTube video, 22:20. Posted by La redhada colectivo, September 12, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWtrovG2H-M.
Rodríguez, Marta. Voces íntimas: Relatos e imágenes de mujeres artistas. Bogotá: Museo Nacional de Colombia, 2016.
Serrano, Eduardo. VIII Salón Atenas. Bogotá: Museo de Arte Moderno, 1982.