Mary Corse: Untitled (Electric Light), 2019
Untitled (Electric Light) (2019) contains tubes filled with argon gas that ionizes when a generator—concealed in a false wall—is activated. The bulbs emit a blue-tinged glow that pulses in time with the accompanying hum. Rather than an altered perceptual state, the viewer is directly confronted with a physical object whose menacing noise disrupts their understanding of what an artwork can be.
Mary Corse (b. 1945) 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. Corse’s art emphasizes the abstract nature of human perception, expanding beyond the visual to include subtleties of feeling and awareness.
Corse’s work has been included in historically significant group exhibitions, including Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A., Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970 at The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2011); and Phenomenal: California Light and Space at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2011). In 2018, the Whitney Museum of American Art opened the solo exhibition A Survey in Light. Her work is held in numerous public collections worldwide, including Fondation Beyeler, Basel; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; The Menil Collection, Houston; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.
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