Rare Mary Corse Ceramic Work

October 27, 2015


Los Angeles Modern Auctions is pleased to offer Mary Corse’s phenomenal Copper–Four Crosses (1979) in our February 21, 2016 auction. Since the 1970s Mary Corse has been investigating the phenomenon of light. Among the Light and Space artists, she developed her own methods of capturing fluctuating light, changing perspectives, and dynamic surfaces in paintings. Though mostly monochromatic, her paintings in shades of blacks and whites shimmer and reflect rainbows of light. In 1968 Corse experimented by applying small glass beads, called “microspheres,” to paint before brushing the mixture onto prepped canvases, creating a prism-like effect. Corse continued to paint this way for the majority of her career to now, as though in relentless pursuit of transcribing pure light and space on a two-dimensional surface.

MaryCorse, Copper-Four Crosses, 1979

Mary Corse, Copper–Four Crosses, 1979
February 21, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

But Corse changed course completely during her “Earth Paintings” phase. A decade after making white paintings in the sixties and seventies, creating starry glittering canvases, she turned to the ground. She started making large paintings with heavy slabs of dark glazed clay. Of these she says, “for about 10 years I only painted white paintings, very ethereal. But then I actually found myself needing to go into the mountains . . . They were black and molded off the earth. So I went from the white light to the black earth.” She needed to build a kiln to make tiles the size she wanted, which were at the time, she says, the largest in the world. “All the kiln builders had said it would never work . . . I kept at it until I found the way to do it. It was a real earth slab factory I had going on out there in Topanga Canyon, right off a quiet dirt road up in the mountains.”

Her glazed tile paintings are shiny and reflective, almost metallic, in glorious copper hues, with uneven surfaces evocative of lunar landscapes. This rare lot is a very early example. 1979 was a good year for the artist–her third solo exhibition was held then at the Janus Gallery in Venice, CA. (She also showed in New York.) Since these works were a departure from Corse’s usual monochrome paintings with microspheres, they are hard to find.

A native Californian, Mary Corse has lived and worked in Los Angeles since the mid-1960s. She has received significant attention in recent years. Her work was included in the exhibition Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970 (2011–2012) at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and Phenomenal: California Light and Space (2011) at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Her works are in the permanent collections of institutions such as Fondation Beyeler, Basel; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Bacon, Alex. “In Conversation: Mary Corse with Alex Bacon.” The Brooklyn Rail. Art sec. The Brooklyn Rail, 3 June 2015. Web. 26 Oct 2015.
Clothier, Peter. “Mary Corse, Ace Contemporary.” Art News. Artnews Ltd., May 1995. Web. (Lehmann Maupin.) 26 Oct 2015.
Wheadon, Nico. “Seeing Is Believing: An Interview with Mary Corse.” Notofu Magazine. NW, 28 July 2015. Web. 26 Oct 2015.
Wyma, Chloe. “19 Questions for Light and Space Artist Mary Corse.” Blouin Artinfo. Visual Arts sec.  Louise Blouin Media, 2 Dec 2014. Web. 26 Oct 2015.
Yablonsky, Linda. “Artifacts: Mary Corse.” T Magazine. Culture sec. The New York Times Company, 24 Feb 2012. Web. 26 Oct 2015.


Lot Information:

Mary Corse
Copper–Four Crosses, 1979
Fired and glazed clay
As illustrated: 86″ x 86″
Estimate: $40,000–$60,000

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