Lorenza Böttner, Untitled, 1985, pastel on paper, 51 by 63 inches.
Lorenza Böttner gazes confidently and seductively over her left shoulder in a pastel self-portrait from 1989. Her hair is flowing; meanwhile, her naked and muscular body reflects the bands of rainbow light surrounding her. Though the environment lacks a horizon line, the rainbow fades into a deep, dark blue that helps ground the scene. Chalky, dirty footprints are scattered over the gradient, as if the paper had at one point itself been a ground—or more specifically, a dance floor. The portrait is a record of irreverent dancing in more ways than one: Böttner is grooving, and it’s contagious.
If you know anything about Böttner—a Chilean-German artist who was born in 1959, started presenting as female in art school, made many self-portraits, and died in her thirties of AIDS-related complications—you’ll recall that there is no arm at the end of that left shoulder she’s gazing over, nor at the end of her right one. Though it’s right there, in the middle of the five-foot sheet of paper, the nub on her shoulder is far from the first thing a viewer notices in this work.