“RYB: Mary Heilmann Paintings, 1975-78” Exhibition

Craig F. Starr Associates

poster for “RYB: Mary Heilmann Paintings, 1975-78” Exhibition
[Image: © 2017 Mary Heilmann "Little Three for Two: Red, Yellow, Blue" (1976) Acrylic on canvas, 13 ½ x 24 in. The Museum of Modern Art. Grace Rainey Rogers Fund (by exchange); Pat Hearn Acquisition Fund; Gift of the Advisory Committee (by exchange).]

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Craig F. Starr Gallery presents RYB: Mary Heilmann Paintings, 1975-78. This is the first exhibition in forty years solely focused on Heilmann’s seminal Red, Yellow, Blue paintings from the 1970s.

Inspired as much by Wonder Bread wrappers and Superman as by Piet Mondrian and Barnett Newman, this series is pivotal to the development of Heilmann’s practice. The paintings mark her first use of bright color and the emergence of her characteristically playful style: a mix of formal simplicity and geometric abstraction with personally expressive surface textures.

Raised in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Heilmann counts California’s surfing culture and the Beats (particularly its impact on music) among her earliest influences. She studied ceramics and sculpture at the University of California, Berkeley, and began painting only after moving to New York in 1968.

Between 1974 and 1979, Heilmann made over 50 works using a combination of red, yellow, and blue. Either square or rectangular in format, the paintings were constructed by laying down (mostly) opaque layers of paint and then scraping away one layer from another by use of a squeegee, as in Little Three for Two: Red, Yellow, Blue (1976), or exposing under layers by peeling away tape. The self-referential, process-revealing paintings were thus “built”. As Heilmann explains, “I wasn’t really thinking about painting. I was thinking about structures.”

Aware of her work and its relationship to space and the spectator, Heilmann transformed her paintings into three-dimensional objects by using extra thick stretchers and painting the sides of the canvases. Demonstrating a willingness to push beyond the appearance of perfection, she encouraged the paint to run, goop, and stray beyond borders of the traditional picture plane. As John Yau writes in his essay for the exhibition catalogue, “…Heilmann’s geometric paintings come across as both handmade and homemade. Nothing like them was being made at the time.”

Simultaneously rebelling against and influenced by Minimalism and Conceptualism, Heilmann pioneered the infusion of abstract painting with craft tradition and pop culture. As Yau suggests “one could say that she confronted the rigid masculinity of large-scale geometric abstractions with a seemingly casual femininity and an unfussy directness that enabled her to bring subjectivity into the domain of geometry.”

RYB: Mary Heilmann Paintings, 1975-78 is comprised of loans from the artist, the Museum of Modern Art, the JP Morgan Chase Art Collection, the Neuberger Museum of Art, and private collections across the country. It will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue and will include a new essay by John Yau.

About Craig F. Starr Gallery
Craig F. Starr Gallery is located at 5 East 73rd Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues. Summer hours (July 5 through September 4) are Monday through Friday 11am-5pm. Regular gallery hours resume after Labor Day and are Monday through Saturday from 11am-5:30pm, and by appointment. For general information please view the gallery’s website at www.craigstarr.com.

About Mary Heilmann
Mary Heilmann (b. 1940, San Francisco, CA) received a B.A. in literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a M.A. in ceramics and sculpture from the University of California, Berkeley. Her work has been shown in numerous prestigious national and international venues. Recent shows include the 2016 exhibition ‘Mary Heilmann: Looking at Pictures’ at Whitechapel Gallery, London, England, and her 2007 retrospective ‘Mary Heilmann: To Be Someone’, which opened at the Orange County Museum, Newport Beach, CA and traveled to the Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Houston, TX; the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH; and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY. Works by Heilmann can be found in private collections and public collections worldwide. Heilmann lives and works in New York City and Bridgehampton, New York.

About John Yau
John Yau (b. 1950, Lynn, Massachusetts) is a poet, fiction writer, editor and publisher of Black Square Editions. He started the popular web magazine Hyperallergic Weekend with three other writers. His latest book of poems is Further Adventures in Monochrome (Copper Canyon Press, 2012). His most recent monographs are Catherine Murphy (Rizzoli, 2016), the first book on the artist, and Richard Artschwager: Into the Desert (Black Dog Publishing, 2015). Yau is Professor of Critical Studies at Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers University).



from July 10, 2017 to October 28, 2017

Reception For The Artist on 2017-10-20 from 18:00 to 20:00


Mary Heilmann

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