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b. 1963, USA

Mary Weatherford Biography

'I’m done with a painting when there is something so compelling that I don’t want to lose it.' —Mary Weatherford

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Mary Weatherford makes large paintings comprising grounds of spontaneously sponged paint on heavy linen canvases, often surmounted by one or more carefully shaped and placed coloured neon tubes. The canvas—prepared with white gesso mixed with marble dust and worked on with Flashe paint, a highly pigmented but readily diluted emulsion—supports startlingly diverse applications of colour. The surface of the paint ranges from matte and velvety to transparent and translucent. The canvas is at times densely filled, reading as a painterly continuum; at others, it shifts in colour from edge to edge; and at yet others it contains clusters of marks set in relatively bare surroundings.

Weatherford received a BA in 1984 from Princeton University, where she took classes in studio art, art history, architecture, and engineering, and an MFA from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, in 2006. In her paintings of the 1990s and early 2000s, she incorporated assemblage elements such as seashells, sponges, and starfish within thin washes of Flashe colour. These works gave way to the Vine paintings (2007–2008), inspired by an intertwined network of ivy, followed by the Cave paintings (2010), a series based on Weatherford’s sustained observation, four years earlier, of a sea cave at Pismo Beach, where she produced small pencil drawings and paintings as the sunlight cast different shadows throughout the day.

In 2012 Weatherford was a visiting artist at California State University at Bakersfield. As she drove around the small city, she was intrigued by the coloured neon signs of old factories and restaurants, some illuminated, some burned out. The Bakersfield Project (2012) grew out of these drives, and it was the first series in which Weatherford incorporated neon rods in her paintings. The rods are screwed directly into the canvas and are connected by thin wires, which create a three-dimensional drawing on top of the painted background and lead down to large magnetic transformers on the floor. Casting an industrial light onto the fields of colour, the neon tubes read as hand-drawn lines across the surface, at times with a blinding brightness that creates lingering afterimages.

Weatherford’s use of colour and light is based on her direct experience of specific locations, as well as her memories of such experiences. Manhattan (2013) and Los Angeles (2014), two major series following the Bakersfield works, additionally possess references to architectural and infrastructural details. Brooklyn Bridge (2013), from the Manhattan series, includes two neon rods—in warm yellow and turquoise—held together at their bases by a looped cord that recalls the suspension cables of the famous bridge. From the mountain to the sea (2014), from the Los Angeles series, attests to Weatherford’s interest not only in the city itself, but also in where the city meets nature, incorporating steely blues and greys with white and yellow lights that oscillate between the organic and the artificial.

In her paintings from 2017–2018, Weatherford focuses on her responses to current events, linking them to her experience of premodern narrative pictorial compositions. She thinks of these new works as aspiring to the function of earlier history paintings, which tell of actual or mythological happenings to invoke fundamental and topical concerns.

Weatherford’s works expand the expressive potential of neon. Though appropriated by earlier artists for its consumerist and linguistic connotations, in Weatherford’s work the industrial material is transformed into a radically new form of abstract, pictorial drawing. Weatherford’s first survey exhibition will be presented at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in 2019 and will travel to the Tang Museum at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, in 2020.

Text courtesy Gagosian.

Mary Weatherford Featured Artworks

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Shibuya Crossing by Mary Weatherford contemporary artwork
Mary WeatherfordShibuya Crossing, 2019Shellac ink on Gampi Torinoko paper
57.2 x 76.5 cm
David Kordansky Gallery Enquire about this work
In the cedar forest by Mary Weatherford contemporary artwork
Mary WeatherfordIn the cedar forest, 2019Shellac ink on Gampi Torinoko paper
57.2 x 76.5 cm
David Kordansky Gallery Enquire about this work
Shibuya Crossing by Mary Weatherford contemporary artwork
Mary WeatherfordShibuya Crossing, 2019Shellac ink on Gampi Torinoko paper
57.2 x 76.5 cm
David Kordansky Gallery Enquire about this work
Shibuya Crossing by Mary Weatherford contemporary artwork
Mary WeatherfordShibuya Crossing, 2019Shellac ink on Gampi Torinoko paper
57.2 x 76.5 cm
David Kordansky Gallery Enquire about this work
After Rousseau by Mary Weatherford contemporary artwork
Mary WeatherfordAfter Rousseau, 2019Flashe and neon on linen
112 x 99 inches
Gagosian Enquire about this work
Panorama Drive by Mary Weatherford contemporary artwork
Mary WeatherfordPanorama Drive, 2013Lithograph
22 x 27 1/4 inches
Gagosian Enquire about this work
California by Mary Weatherford contemporary artwork
Mary WeatherfordCalifornia, 2012Lithograph
22 x 27 1/4 inches
Gagosian Enquire about this work
Union Ave by Mary Weatherford contemporary artwork
Mary WeatherfordUnion Ave, 2012Lithograph
22 x 27 1/4 inches
Gagosian Enquire about this work

Mary Weatherford Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Mary Weatherford, One-on-One at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles
Closed
21–28 April 2020 Mary Weatherford One-on-One David Kordansky GalleryOnline Only
Contemporary art exhibition, Mary Weatherford, The Japan Drawings at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles
Closed
21 April–19 May 2020 Mary Weatherford The Japan Drawings David Kordansky GalleryOnline Only
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Continuing Abstraction at Gagosian, Basel
Closed
10 June–13 July 2019 Group Exhibition Continuing Abstraction GagosianBasel

Mary Weatherford Represented By

Gagosian contemporary art gallery in 980 Madison Avenue, New York, USA Gagosian New York, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, London, Paris, Le Bourget, Geneva, Basel, Rome, Athens, Hong Kong

Mary Weatherford In Ocula Magazine

Galleries Augment Basel Online With Clicks-and-Mortar Exhibitions Ocula News Galleries Augment Basel Online With Clicks-and-Mortar Exhibitions Berlin, 16 June 2020

In Berlin, where the pandemic permits, digital viewing rooms are being remade offline. Elsewhere, galleries are mounting ever richer online presentations.

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Mary Weatherford In Related Press

WORK IN PROGRESS: MARY WEATHERFORD Related Press WORK IN PROGRESS: MARY WEATHERFORD 30 October 2019, Gagosian Quarterly

'There's a painting for the show that's 100 percent cobalt blue, with a little corner of a more lavender blue. I conceived it when I was in bed for ten days with a terrible flu. It was the first of these big, double-square, mural-sized paintings in the series. I thought, 'I'm going to make a completely cobalt blue painting. Just straight cobalt...

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Gagosian to go off-piste with first pop-up show during Art Basel Related Press Gagosian to go off-piste with first pop-up show during Art Basel 4 June 2019, The Art Newspaper

Last year, Gagosian introduced an innovative virtual online viewing room during Art Basel. This year, the gallery is creating another sales platform during the Swiss fair, this time taking a bricks and mortar approach with an off-site pop-up exhibition titled Continuing Abstraction (10—16 June).

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Surface Work review – women abstract artists dazzle in historic show Related Press Surface Work review – women abstract artists dazzle in historic show 15 April 2018, The Guardian

There are certain shows that change one's sense of art. Surface Work is one of them. Spread across two sites, it is nothing less than an anthology of abstract painting spanning an entire century, from early constructivism to post-digital sampling, in which every work holds its own and every work is by a woman. This is a rare and historic event....

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