Sunday, March 22, 2009
In addition to the weekly "Guest Artist" feature, I enjoy introducing readers to some of my favorite artists. To date I have featured stories on, or at least introductions to, artists such as Frida Khalo, Berenice Abbott and Norman Bluhm.
This week for those not familiar with Mary Abbott, here is a brief introduction to one of the few pre-feminist movement female artists to achieve success in modern art.
Born in Boston in 1921 and raised in New York and Washington, DC high society, Mary Abbott is one of a very small group of female artists who achieved both critical and public success among the first generation of American Abstract Expressionists.
In the 1930's Abbott began studying at the Art Students League and the Corcoran School and later would count among her friends many of the top painters of the era. Mentored by Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, Abbott began to exhibit at important New York galleries in the 1950's.
Abbott’s work was featured in surveys of contemporary drawing, organized by the Museum of Modern Art in 1950 and 1956. She taught painting at the University of Minnesota in the 1970's and was the first artist of her generation to set up a studio in Manhattan’s revitalized SOHO.
Like many artists of the period, Abbott has many colorful stories surrounding her life. It is believed that she was introduced to peyote, a hallucinogen by sculptor David Hare which had a great influence on her understanding and use of color. She was a regular at the Artist’s Club and Cedar Tavern in New York. In the 1940's she began an affair with Willem deKooning and proclaimed him,” the love of my life”.
In 2007 the McCormick Gallery in Chicago organized a major retrospective exhibition of her work.
Mary Abbott lives on the east end of Long Island.
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