This show redresses the still lacking female voices of post-Ab Ex abstraction.
Mary Corse (b. 1945) has had serious recognition for her Minimalist work, which sometimes incorporates neon and fluorescent light, However, she has generally been overshadowed by her many West Coast male peers similarly occupied from the mid-1960s, who soaked up most of the attention in this burgeoning sphere.
Corse was very much in the thick of post-Ab Ex abstraction’s optical and spatial concerns. She has her own take on white as a reflective hue explored in geometric arrangements. She has bolstered different types of white paint, painting grounds, and real illumination with a “glass microsphere” material, crystalized to sandy grain, which adds a shifting sheen to the monochrome surface. If you focus on the light per se, the picture plane becomes quietly variated and even dizzying.
Corse has developed with apparently strict delimits playing out myriad finely balanced possibilities. A major revelation came in the mid-1970s with the addition of less finely ground black microspheres, which have the effect of shimmering sequins and add, unwittingly or not, a metaphoric universe to her studio-laboratory aesthetic. Unfortunately, only one of those is included here. New Yorkers were treated to a roomful of related, more recent and expansive works at Lehman Maupin Gallery last fall (2017) – more thrilling, overall, than this show, which is, however, deserved and important.
Two diptych-type sculptures from 1965, each consisting of elongated wood and Plexiglas triangular white columns that appear to change shape when viewed from different angles, are as confident in their Minimalist mien as Robert Morris’s famous “3 L’s” of the same year that came to define it (now in the Whitney’s permanent collection).
Jody B. Cutler
Volume 33.no.1 September / October 2018 p 29
Mary Corse: A Survey in Light, June 8 – November 25, 2018 Travelling to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (the organizing institution), July 28 – November 20, 2019