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Mary Heilmann To Be Someone


Mary Heilmann, Surfing on Acid
Mary Heilmann
To Be Someone
May 10, 2008–Aug 3, 2008
"...often joy–inducing and sometimes breathtaking."--Artforum, on Heilmann's work

This nationally touring show is the first retrospective of work by influential New York-based painter Mary Heilmann. A pioneer of infusing abstract painting with influences from craft traditions and popular culture (especially rock music and California's beach culture), Heilmann is one of the most important yet still under-recognized artists in the United States today. Her bright colors and laid–back, carefree attitude and brushstrokes have also exercised a strong influence on younger painters.

One of the very few female abstract painters of her generation, she has nevertheless maintained a steadfast commitment to producing eccentric, engaging, visceral paintings. Featuring 75 works from the last three decades, the exhibition also explores Heilmann’s interest in ceramics, decorative arts, film, and music. It is organized by the Orange County Museum of Art. The show also tours to the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, in 2008. A catalogue featuring essays by Elizabeth Armstrong, Johanna Burton, Dave Hickey, and Al Ruppersberg accompanies the exhibition.

Mary Heilmann was born in San Francisco in 1940 and grew up there and in southern California. She went on to study ceramics and poetry at San Francisco State College and the University of California, Berkeley, where she finished an M.A. in 1968. After moving to New York in 1969, Heilmann switched from sculpture to painting. She joined the Pat Hearn Gallery in 1986, and exhibitions there increased her exposure. Since then, domestic and international interest has grown. The current traveling retrospective of her work has generated great enthusiasm among critics and viewers alike. She was featured in the August 2007 issue of Vogue, and in November 2007 her colorful abstract paintings landed on the covers of Art in America and Artforum simultaneously. Heilmann has taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York and received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

additional image info:

Mary Heilmann
Surfing on Acid, 2005
Oil on canvas
Collection of Orange County Museum of Art;
museum purchase with funds provided through
prior gift of Lois Outerbridge
Courtesy of the artist, 303 Gallery New York,
and Hauser & Wirth Zurich London

Mary Heilmann
Hokusai, 2004
Oil on canvas
Diptych: 75 x 120 in. overall
Collection of Carol and David Appel, Toronto
Courtesy of the artist, 303 Gallery New York,
and Hauser & Wirth Zurich London

Mary Heilmann
Tourmaline, 1992
Oil on canvas
42 x 42 in.
Collection of David Doubilet, Toronto

Mary Heilmann
Neo Noir, 1998
Oil on canvas
75 x 60 in.
Collection of Edward Israel, Los Angeles
Courtesy of the artist, 303 Gallery New York,
and Hauser & Wirth Zurich London
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