Mary Corse A Survey in Light Kim Conaty, Robin Clark, Michael Govan, Alexis Lowry, David Reed

Publication date:
12 Jun 2018
Whitney Museum of American Art
160 pages: 279 x 254mm
115 color + 15 b-w illus.

Initially trained as an abstract painter, Mary Corse (b. 1945) emerged in the mid-1960s as one of the few women associated with the California Light and Space movement. This catalogue is the first comprehensive examination of this singular artist's work, and features new scholarship and object studies that underscore how Corse’s groundbreaking approach to light, perception, and subjectivity forged a new language of painting. Over more than five decades, Corse has maintained a commitment to abstraction and belief in modernist painting even as she charted her own course through her studies in quantum physics and investigations into a range of unconventional materials, from Tesla coils and neon to glass microbeads and glitter. Kim Conaty’s essay investigates how the artist’s early experiments with light—creating “paintings” made of fluorescent or neon—made way for her subsequent explorations into how light might be integrated into the surface of her canvases through the interplay of reflection and refraction. Corse’s exquisite paintings activate the viewer in the creation of the perceptual experience: the kinetic effect of the work is contingent upon the movement of the body through space. As Corse has explained: “Art is not on the wall, it’s in your perception.”

Kim Conaty is Steven and Ann Ames Curator of Drawings and Prints at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Robin Clark is director of the Artist Initiative at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Michael Govan is CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Alexis Lowry is associate curator at the Dia Art Foundation. David Reed is a visual artist based in New York.