At the heart of Mary Corse's practice lies an interest in the subjective experiences of light and colour. As an artist positioned on the periphery of the American Light and Space Movement, Mary Corse is known for her lightboxes and monochromatic paintings made with a unique mixture of acrylic paint and reflective glass beads.Read More
Originating in Southern California in the 1960s, the Light and Space Movement referred to a group of loosely associated artists who shared a penchant for exploring perceptual phenomena and pioneering the then-unconventional use of plastic, glass, resin and neon fluorescent lights in art. Partially influenced by the brilliant California landscape and its bright sun, ocean and surf culture, artists such as James Turrell, Robert Irwin and John McCracken developed a visual aesthetic that focused on perfectly polished surfaces and minimalist abstract forms. As one of the few women artists associated with the movement, Corse's contribution was not recognised until recently. While sharing with her contemporaries an understanding of perception as a subjective experience, she developed a distinctive practice that differs substantially from others of the movement in her deliberate inclusion of evidence of the artist's hand.
Throughout her career, Corse has experimented with embedding luminescence in her paintings, with a particular focus on white light. Beginning in 1966, Corse worked on a series of lightboxes that consist of Plexiglas lit by fluorescent and, later, argon-filled tubes. For another series titled 'Electric Light' (1968), she studied quantum physics and wireless cording to create light paintings suspended from the ceiling. It was also during this year that Corse discovered the possibility of mixing acrylic paint with the microspheres—glass reflector beads used to mark road dividers on the highway—that would become a hallmark of her work.
Having focused on all-white paintings in the 1960s, Corse began to introduce black in the following decade. Black Light Painting (1975), for instance, depicts a composition of white and black quadrangles. By painting the black sections in acrylic paint mixed with minuscule acrylic squares and microspheres, Corse transformed the colour black—commonly thought of as the absence of light—into a luminous shade.
Corse's evolving experimentation with light is grounded in her belief in the range of possibilities available to a single colour depending on light and perspective. From one angle, her acrylic paintings may appear to have an uninterrupted surface of monochromatic grids; from another angle, however, the varied texture of the brushstrokes and microspheres become visible, altering the impression of the same work. This optical illusion was extended with Corse's use of the 'inner band'—a composition of alternating columns of white and shades of grey—from 1996 onwards, in which vertical stripes appear and disappear as the viewer changes position.
Corse graduated with a BFA from the Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts), Los Angeles, in 1963 and received her MFA from the same school in 1968. Her recent solo and group exhibitions in selected institutions include Lisson Gallery, London (2018); Seattle Art Museum (2015); University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor (2014); J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2011); Gropius Bau, Berlin (2011); and Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2011). In 2018 the Whitney Museum of American Art organised A Survey in Light, Corse's first solo museum survey. The artist lives and works in Los Angeles.
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2018
As Seoul cements itself as one of the world's most attractive art hubs, Kiaf Seoul celebrates its 20th anniversary edition.Read More Ocula News What Are Galleries Showing in Aspen in 2021? Aspen, 4 June 2021
White Cube, Lehmann Maupin, and Almine Rech are among the global galleries heading for the hills this summer.Read More Ocula Insight Mary Corse at LACMA: Painting Light and Space By Sherry Paik, Los Angeles
Mary Corse's decades-long and ongoing interest in the perceptual experience of light is the focus of the artist's retrospective on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Mary Corse: A Survey in Light (28 July–11 November 2019).Read More Ocula Feature Art Basel in Hong Kong 2019: A Post-mortem By Diana d’Arenberg, Hong Kong
Ocula contributor Diana d'Arenberg gives her annual post-mortem of Hong Kong's Art Basel week, running through some of the highs and lows of the fair's seventh edition, which opened to the public from 29 to 31 March 2019.Read More
On some timely occasions, we get the true pleasure to be reminded of T.S. Eliot's 'historical sense' (from his famous 1919 essay Tradition and Individual Talent). This historical sense involves a percRead More Related Press MARY CORSE: A Survey in Light 11 July 2018, The Brooklyn Rail
At the entrance to Mary Corse: A Survey in Light at the Whitney Museum of American Art, a monitor plays White Light (1968), a film showing a young Mary Corse at work in her studio. In one scene, CRead More Related Press The Californian Artist Posing Questions of Light and Space 6 June 2018, AnOther Magazine
With a recent gallery installation at Dia:Beacon and an upcoming solo show at the Whitney in New York, Mary Corse is having a significant, well-earned moment of recognition. Working as a dedicated artRead More Related Press Quantum leap for Mary Corse as clutch of shows brings overdue recognition 4 May 2018, The Art Newspaper
At the age of 72, Mary Corse will have her first solo museum exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art next month. A group of her pioneering abstract paintings has also recently been acquired bRead More
Artist Mary Corse in conversation with Los Angeles Times culture writer and winner of the 2017 Rabkin Prize in Visual Arts Journalism Carolina A. Miranda at Kayne Griffin Corcoran discussing Corse's pView More