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b. 1963, USA

Mary Weatherford Biography

California-based artist Mary Weatherford is known for her large paintings that incorporate neon light to convey her experiences of specific places and moments.

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Early in her career, incorporated objects and the treatment of colour became key aspects of the artist's work. Completing her BA at Princeton University in 1984 and MFA at Bard College in 2006, Mary Weatherford's paintings of the 1990s and early 2000s incorporated assembled objects such as seashells, sponges, and starfish.

Made up of thin washes of Flashe paint, these early paintings gave way to her semi-figurative 'Vines Paintings' (2007–2008), and later her series of 'Cave Paintings' (2010), based on observations of changing lighting conditions around a sea cave at California's Pismo Beach.

Flashe paint, a consistent feature of Mary Weatherford's art, is a vivid, pigment-heavy but easily dilutable vinyl paint that allows for a diverse range of colours and textures. Applying this over linen canvases prepared with a mix of white gesso and marble dust, the paint surface in Weatherford's works can range from a thick matte to a translucent transparent wash.

The artist's application of this medium in her works ranges anywhere between consistent edge-to-edge colour, to clusters of paint marks among barren patches of canvas.

In 2012, Weatherford first began incorporating neon tubes into her paintings with 'The Bakersfield Project'—a series inspired by the colourful neon signs the artist saw on old factories and restaurants while driving around the small city of Bakersfield as a visiting artist at California State University Bakersfield.

Neon rods connected by thins wires are screwed into the canvas. Completely removed from their commercial context, the neon tubes take on the appearance of lines drawn across the painted surface of Weatherford's abstract paintings. Their overpowering brightness can sometimes generate an afterimage that lingers in the viewer's vision.

A core part of Weatherford's practice, these neon works were the subject of the first book to be written about her practice: Jennifer Peterson's Mary Weatherford: The Neon Paintings (2016).

As Weatherford explained in an interview for Gagosian Quarterly, by using neon, she seeks 'to depict or deliver not only a visual translation of a place in time, but with that, the scent, the sound, and the feeling.'

This is true not only of her 'Manhattan' (2013) and 'Los Angeles' (2014) series, which explore aspects of the city and contrasts of city and nature, it also applies to the more recently unveiled 'Train Yard' (2016–2020) series. In No. 4000 (2017–2018), for example, Weatherford recreates the sensation of standing under the night sky in a steam-filled trainyard, using only tonal variations of black, applied in patches and swirls, pierced by white neon.

Mary Weatherford's Gloria (2018), an imposing canvas of red hues horizontally slashed by a fissure-like red neon line, demonstrates the effect of scale in her later neon works. Into Space and Time (2020), meanwhile, demonstrates the greater conceptual depth of her recent works, as it pairs an art historical inquiry into the colour pink with an examination of humanity's visual and imagined perception of the cosmos.

Mary Weatherford has exhibited widely across the United States in group and solo exhibitions, including MoMA's 2014 survey show Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World. In 2020, the artist's first travelling retrospective, Mary Weatherford: Canyon–Daisy–Eden (2020–2021) commenced at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, later to be shown at SITE Santa Fe and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in Texas.

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020

Mary Weatherford, Orion’s Belt (2016). © Mary Weatherford. Courtesy Gagosian. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio.

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 Contact Gallery
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 Contact Gallery
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 Contact Gallery
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 Contact Gallery
After Rousseau by Mary Weatherford contemporary artwork
Mary WeatherfordAfter Rousseau, 2019Flashe and neon on linen
112 x 99 inches
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Panorama Drive by Mary Weatherford contemporary artwork
Mary WeatherfordPanorama Drive, 2013Lithograph
22 x 27 1/4 inches
Gagosian Contact Gallery
California by Mary Weatherford contemporary artwork
Mary WeatherfordCalifornia, 2012Lithograph
22 x 27 1/4 inches
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Union Ave by Mary Weatherford contemporary artwork
Mary WeatherfordUnion Ave, 2012Lithograph
22 x 27 1/4 inches
Gagosian Contact Gallery

Mary Weatherford Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Mary Weatherford, Train Yards at Gagosian, London
Open Now
22 September–19 November 2020 Mary Weatherford Train Yards Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, LondonGrosvenor Hill, London
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

Mary Weatherford Represented By

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