Just In: Mary Corse’s Microspheres

September 24, 2020
Mary Corse | Untitled | 2000 | Est. $15,000-20,000

After first creating sculptural works of Plexiglas and fluorescent light bulbs, Light and Space artist Mary Corse pivoted to painting in 1968. Her “light paintings” incorporate tiny glass beads — “microspheres” — onto acrylic surfaces, as in this untitled 2000 work just arrived to the LAMA showroom. Rendering Corse’s ongoing investigation of the properties of light on a human scale, Untitled’s yellow field of paint and glass transfixes as its myriad prisms bring the surface into view.  

 A California native, Corse graduated from the Chouinard Art Institute in 1968 and settled in Topanga Canyon in 1970. Initially trained as an abstract painter, she did not buck the discipline like many of her more quickly recognized Light and Space contemporaries such as Robert Irwin and James Turrell. Instead, she “approached the question of light through painting,” as the Whitney Museum articulated in their 2018 survey exhibition. One of few women associated with the Light and Space movement, Corse seamlessly integrated delicacy and industrialism with the use of microspheres, which are also used in street signs and freeway dividers — indeed, the colors of Untitled even echo the black and yellow scheme of highways.

Corse’s minimalist compositions deliver their impact through engagement; the same work changes dramatically with a step to one side, a slight shift in perspective. Whole new realms open up depending on the position of work and viewer — but, as Linda Yablonksy wrote, “No matter where you move, you feel their glow.”


Guggenheim Museum. “Mary Corse; Untitled (Light Painting).” Accessed September 23, 2020.

Pace Gallery. “Mary Corse.” Accessed September 23, 2020.

Whitney Museum. “Mary Corse: A Survey in Light.” Accessed September 23, 2020.

Yablonsky, Linda. “Artifacts: Mary Corse.” T Magazine. The New York Times Company, February 24, 2012.

Lot 154
Mary Corse
Acrylic and glass microspheres on paper
Signed and dated in graphite sheet verso
Composition: 7.75″ x 18.75″; Sheet: 15″ x 26.25″

Estimate: $15,000–$20,000
October 18, 2020 Modern Art & Design Auction

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