Corse_Studio_LT_Echelon Web.png
New York

Mary Corse

Recent Paintings

On View
Nov 8–Dec 21, 2019

Recent Paintings brings together ten large-scale paintings completed over the past year, which extend the artist’s career-long investigation into perceptual awareness while expanding upon her recent exploration of light as color.

Exhibition Details

Mary Corse
Recent Paintings
Nov 8 – Dec 21, 2019

Gallery

540 West 25th Street
New York

Connect

@pacegallery

Above: Untitled (White Light Inner Band), 2015, Glass microspheres and acrylic on metal, 15 x 60 ft, (4.6 x 18.3 m) © Mary Corse, Photograph by Flying Studio

Traversing physical and metaphysical experiences of luminosity, Recent Paintings at Pace is organized around a central pavilion-like room, in which the artist has installed a series of monumental canvases that incorporate fields of primary color. A new series of Corse’s Inner Band paintings populate an ambulatory space surrounding the pavilion. In tandem with her first-floor exhibition, we will exhibit a new monumental outdoor painting on steel, which Corse has installed on the gallery’s sixth-floor outdoor terrace, in addition to a wireless lightbox work powered by a high-frequency Tesla coil from the 1960s. This is the first solo presentation of Corse’s work in New York since her survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2018.

Since the 1960s, Corse’s pioneering approach to painting has probed the medium’s capacity to materialize and radiate light from within. Corse often emphasizes that her paintings are “not on the wall,” but instead suspended in a perceptual relationship between viewer and canvas. For Corse, the essence of painting is therefore not about paint, but rather about underlying structures of visual experience as they unfold in space and time. Beginning in the late 1960s, Corse has pursued this interest in perception by incorporating glass microspheres on the surfaces of her paintings. An industrial material used to enhance the visibility of road markings, the microspheres capture and refract light depending on the viewer’s position relative to the work’s optically rich surface. As one moves laterally through space, lighting conditions shift, revealing or obscuring elements of the composition. In Corse’s paintings, reality flashes into visibility at the moment in which the viewer transcends what she calls “finite thought,” instead inhabiting an experience that is intuitive, affective, and connects to the infinite in us.

The central room includes three large-scale canvases that isolate fields of primary color—red, yellow, and blue—between thick vertical bands of black and white along with a fourth black and white painting. Corse worked for most of her career in tonal variations of white and black, but in the 1990s began to respond to the way the glass microspheres in her White Light and Black Light paintings acted as tiny prisms, breaking down light into its constituent parts. Building upon her decades-long interest in the nature of refraction, Corse’s recent engagement with primary colors suggests how chromatic effects have always been subtly present in her ostensibly monochrome paintings. Her new works recapitulate the physical process of refraction, isolating color in its purest form, freeing it from any burden of representation and endowing it with a luminous material presence.

https---cdn.evbuc.com-images-68684509-272795317168-1-original.20190814-215204.jpeg

Mary Corse, Untitled (White, Black, Red, Beveled), 2019, Glass microspheres in acrylic on canvas, 78" x 216" (198.1 cm x 548.6 cm) © Mary Corse, courtesy Kayne Griffin Corcoran

The central room includes three large-scale canvases that isolate fields of primary color—red, yellow, and blue—between thick vertical bands of black and white along with a fourth black and white painting. Corse worked for most of her career in tonal variations of white and black, but in the 1990s began to respond to the way the glass microspheres in her White Light and Black Light paintings acted as tiny prisms, breaking down light into its constituent parts. Building upon her decades-long interest in the nature of refraction, Corse’s recent engagement with primary colors suggests how chromatic effects have always been subtly present in her ostensibly monochrome paintings. Her new works recapitulate the physical process of refraction, isolating color in its purest form, freeing it from any burden of representation and endowing it with a luminous material presence.

By layering fields of primary color with glass microspheres, Corse has explained that she is able to avoid “just painting a picture of color” and instead “make color be the light.” The physical presence of color as light points to the importance of physics in the artist’s work. In the late 1960s, she began experimenting with lightboxes that utilized high-frequency Tesla coils to wirelessly power argon-filled bulbs. In order to obtain the necessary materials, Corse was required to take a class in physics at the University of Southern California. While studying quantum mechanics—in particular Heisenberg’s famous uncertainty principle—she realized there could be no such thing as a neutral viewing position. Abandoning any pretense of “objective truth,” this revelation led her to understand painting as a tool for examining the way we perceive the world. Her color field paintings draw our awareness to the act of perception by suggesting that light and color are really two words for the same phenomenon: particles of energy hurtling through space, differentiated only by the frequency of their vibrations.

The inner and outer spaces that make up Corse’s exhibition at Pace lead viewers in a spiral choreography through and across the vibrating visual fields of her paintings, enlivening their performative and participatory quality. Installed in the ambulatory spaces surrounding the interior pavilion, these works flash in and out of visibility, responding to the movement of our bodies. Seen from up close, the paintings suggest an infinite expanse, recalling the intimate immensity of the pictorial sublime while echoing the serial impulse that cuts through the artist’s entire body of work.

5417.Mary_DTLA_Light_Box_1_web_2_20180725-7-2pktc7.jpg

Mary Corse

Mary Corse investigates materiality, abstraction, and perception through the subtly gestural and precisely geometric paintings that she has made over her fifty-year career. Earning a BFA in 1968 from Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, Corse developed her initial work during the emergence of the Light and Space movement in Southern California. Throughout the 1960s, she experimented with unconventional media and supports, producing shaped canvases, works with plexiglass, and illuminated boxes. In 1968, Corse discovered glass microspheres, an industrial material used in street signs and dividing lines on highways. Combining these tiny refractive beads with acrylic paint, she creates paintings that appear to radiate light from within and produce shifts in appearance contingent on their surroundings and the viewer’s position.

Learn More

New York — Mary Corse, Recent Paintings, Nov 8–Dec 21, 2019