Our eye on … New York Shows

As part of a new series from our art team to coincide with our support of The Art Newspaper’s Art Market Eye newsletter, we highlight an important exhibition at one of the city’s commercial galleries.

Exhibition Highlight: Mary Obering, Window Series, 1973 at Bortolami, New York

Mary Obering’s (b.1937, USA) inaugural presentation at Bortolami is a focused body of work from 1973, exhibited again for the first time since selection for exhibition in New York by Carl Andre in the same year.

Obering’s approach gracefully elides lucid Minimalist concerns with a longer history of European painting. The show’s title (Window Series, 1973) refers to the writing of Italian Renaissance polymath Leon Battista Alberti who argued that painters should aspire to a level of pictorial illusionism so convincing the viewer could mistake painting for the real world.

Set against stretched, monochromatic canvas grounds, further brightly coloured ribbons of canvas hang loosely in abstract arrangements, their lower ends curling slightly. A binary response to painting as illusion, abstraction asserts the formulation of painting as object, conceived and living entirely within its own world without reference to external content (narratives, subjects).

In saturated hues, these geometric arrangements of dangling canvas perform subtly against the backdrop of each underlying monochrome painting. Swathes of emerald green, sky blue, earth brown and royal purple distil the Renaissance palette of landscape painting, rich textiles and grand interiors.

With deft elegance, Obering’s paintings evoke echoes of the medium’s pictorial history with the taught, conceptual language of 1970s Minimalism, haunted by memories of the artist’s Italian travels. No mean feat.

Mary OberingWindow Series, 1973, 2019, installation view, Bortolami, New York

Mary Obering, Window Series #5, 1973, Acrylic on canvas, 96 x 96 in (243.8 x 243.8 cm)

Cover Image: Mary Obering, Window Series, 1973, 2019, installation view, Bortolami, New York

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