Prismatic Painter Mary Corse

February 22, 2015

Light and Space painter Mary Corse (b. 1945) developed her own methods of capturing fluctuating light, changing perspectives, and dynamic surfaces in paintings. A Berkeley native, Corse enrolled at the famed SoCal Chouinard Art Institute in the mid-1960s, the alma mater of other Light and Space artists including Larry Bell and Robert Irwin. In 1968, after having worked on a series of fluorescent lightbulbs housed in Plexiglas cases, Corse changed direction. She applied small glass beads, called “microspheres,” to paint before brushing the mixture onto prepped canvases, creating a prism-like effect. Corse explains: “… my paintings are not reflective! [… ] They create a prism that brings the surface into view. I like that because it brings the viewer into the light as well.”

Lot 95, Mary Corse, Untitled (White, Black, Blue Double Arch), 2000

Lot 95, Mary Corse, Untitled (White, Black, Blue Double Arch), 2000
March 1, 2015 Modern Art & Design Auction

Untitled (White, Black, Blue Double Arch) (2000) exemplifies this technique. Corse “brings the viewer into the light” with the dramatic contrast between light and dark and its subsequent push and pull. The blue and black color fields act as “doorways” into deep, recessive spaces, while the white, glassy, prismatic boundary creates the perception of floating light. Light, for Corse, is as much a tool as the canvas, the paint, or the paintbrush. “For me painting has never been about the paint, but what the painting does. I didn’t want to make a picture of light; I wanted to put the actual light in the painting… “

Mary Corse has been in significant group exhibitions including Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970 (2011–2012), J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and Phenomenal: California Light and Space (2011), the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Her works are in the permanent collections of international and national institutions such as Fondation Beyeler, Basel; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles;  the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Wyma, Chloe. “19 Questions for Light and Space Artist Mary Corse.”Blouin ARTINFO. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.
“Artifacts: Mary Corse.” T Magazine. 24 Feb. 2012. Web..

Lot 95
Mary Corse
Untitled (White, Black, Blue Double Arch)
Acrylic and glass microspheres on canvas
Signed and dated in black felt-tip marker verso
Canvas: 63″ x 76.5″
Together with copy of receipt from the artist
Provenance: Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired directly from the artist, 2000)
Estimate: $30,000 – $50,000

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