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b. 1945, USA

Mary Corse Biography

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.

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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

Mary Corse Featured Artworks

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Untitled (White Inner Band with White Sides, Beveled) by Mary Corse contemporary artwork
Mary CorseUntitled (White Inner Band with White Sides, Beveled), 2021Glass microspheres in acrylic on canvas
127 x 127 x 10.2 cm
Pace Gallery
Untitled (Single Cross) by Mary Corse contemporary artwork
Mary CorseUntitled (Single Cross), 2020Glitter on aluminium
146.3 x 146.3 x 0.5 cm
Lisson Gallery Contact Gallery
Untitled (White Innerband) by Mary Corse contemporary artwork
Mary CorseUntitled (White Innerband), 2020Glass microspheres in acrylic on canvas
213.4 x 213.4 cm
Lisson Gallery Contact Gallery
Untitled (Black Earth) by Mary Corse contemporary artwork
Mary CorseUntitled (Black Earth), 1978Fired earth clay tile
58.4 x 58.4 cm
Pace Gallery
Untitled (White, Black, Beveled) by Mary Corse contemporary artwork
Mary CorseUntitled (White, Black, Beveled), 2018Glass microspheres in acrylic on canvas
28 x 120 inches
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Black Light Painting (Glitter Series) by Mary Corse contemporary artwork
Mary CorseBlack Light Painting (Glitter Series), 1975acrylic squares and glass microspheres in acrylic on canvas
108 x 108 inches
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Untitled (White, Black Band, Beveled) by Mary Corse contemporary artwork
Mary CorseUntitled (White, Black Band, Beveled), 2017glass microspheres in acrylic on canvas
114 x 96 inches
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Untitled (White Light Series) by Mary Corse contemporary artwork
Mary CorseUntitled (White Light Series), 1966Wood, plexiglass, fluorescent tubes
182.9 x 168.9 x 26.7 cm
Almine Rech Contact Gallery

Mary Corse Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Presentation, Group Presentation at Pace Gallery, 540 West 25th Street, New York
Closed
13 March–24 April 2021 Group Presentation Pace Gallery540 West 25th Street, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Selected Works at Lisson Gallery, Lisson Street, London
Closed
16 February–24 April 2021 Group Exhibition Selected Works Lisson GalleryLisson Street, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Mary Corse, Mary Corse at Pace Gallery, Palm Beach, USA
Closed
4–21 February 2021 Mary Corse Pace Gallery, Palm BeachPalm Beach

Mary Corse Represented By

Lisson Gallery contemporary art gallery in Lisson Street, London, United Kingdom Lisson Gallery London, East Hampton, New York, Shanghai
Pace Gallery contemporary art gallery in 540 West 25th Street, New York, USA Pace Gallery New York, London, Geneva, Palo Alto, Hong Kong, Seoul

Mary Corse In Ocula Magazine

Mary Corse at LACMA: Painting Light and Space Ocula Insight Mary Corse at LACMA: Painting Light and Space By Sherry Paik, Los Angeles

Mary Corse: A Survey in Light is an ideal title for Corse's major retrospective exhibition, now at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (28 July–11 November 2019), that succinctly summarises her decades-long and ongoing experimentation with light. A Survey in Light debuted last year at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York...

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Art Basel in Hong Kong 2019: A Post-mortem 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.

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Art Basel in Hong Kong: Exhibitions to See Ocula Feature Art Basel in Hong Kong: Exhibitions to See By Tessa Moldan, Hong Kong

For those visiting Art Basel in Hong Kong (29–31 March 2019), find out what is currently making the city's art scene tick with this guide of exhibitions to see.

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New York Autumn Exhibitions: The Lowdown Ocula Feature New York Autumn Exhibitions: The Lowdown By Jareh Das, New York

With a host of exhibitions to choose from, this Ocula Lowdown highlights some of the best gallery and museum shows to see in New York this fall.

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Mary Corse In Related Press

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Painters Reply: Experimental Painting in the 1970s and Now Related Press Painters Reply: Experimental Painting in the 1970s and Now 2 July 2019, The Brooklyn Rail

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 perception, not only of the pastness of the past but of its very presence, which simply implies a co-function of simultaneous existence and simultaneous...

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MARY CORSE: A Survey in Light 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, Corse holds a square of fluorescent tubing, moving it playfully in front of the camera. The square begins to glow, seemingly from within, without any...

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The Californian Artist Posing Questions of Light and Space 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 artist since the 1960s, she is one of few women connected to California’s west coast Light and Space movement. Directionally, though, her artistic focus...

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Quantum leap for Mary Corse as clutch of shows brings overdue recognition 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 by the Dia Art Foundation. Now recognised as sharing affinities with works by artists in the California Light and Space movement, including James...

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Mary Corse In Video & Audio

Mary Corse in Conversation with Carolina A. Miranda Related Video & Audio Mary Corse in Conversation with Carolina A. Miranda 6 June 2018, Kayne Griffin Corcoran

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 practice, why she often produces her own art materials and tools, and her friendship with James Turrell.

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