Maria Lai was born in Ulassai, Sardinia in 1919. Though her early artistic endeavors took her to Rome and Venice, she was often drawn back to the customs and histories of the island, and in particular to the lives and voices of the women who lived there. Over the course of her illustrious sixty-year career, her work was shown extensively in solo exhibitions throughout Italy and Europe, and she was invited to participate in group shows across the globe, including in the Venice Biennale of 1978. In addition to her visual and social arts practice, Lai collaborated with several theater companies, including Fueddu and Gestu. She received a degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice in 1943, and in 2004, she was awarded an honorary degree in Literature from the University of Cagliari. Following her death in 2013 in Cardedu, institutions in the towns of Cagilari, Nuoro, and Ulassai came together to present a major joint retrospective of Lai’s work. Most recently, her work was included in documenta14 in Athens and the Venice Biennale, both in 2017.
Marianne Boesky Gallery is planning an exhibition of her work at Boesky West in Aspen, CO to open February of 2018, and The Uffizi in Florence, Italy is organizing a retrospective to open in March of 2018.