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Mary Heilmann in Art & Design and 20th Century, Modern & Contemporary Fine Art

After receiving an MFA in ceramics at Berkeley in her native California, Mary Heilmann began painting when she moved to New York in 1968. Influenced by 1960s counterculture and the relaxed “California”  vibe of her childhood, Heilmann developed a non-representational style based on the geometric vocabulary of Minimalism imbued with a casual and unorthodox approach to color and form. Considered one of the preeminent contemporary Abstract painters in America, Heilmann’s practice also includes ceramics and furniture where her use of color and geometry can be seen in three-dimmensions. Heilmann’s tables and chairs are handmade, incorporating ceramic inserts and geometric patterns that reflect her aesthetic influences and are reminiscent of her compositions  on canvas. The simplicity of Heilmann’s forms is deceptive, often masking a complexity that can be seen in the splashes of color and bleeding of sharp edges into each other, undermining the expected geometric rigor.

We are very pleased to be offering several works by Mary Heilmann from the Collection of Gordon and Zanne Stewart in our upcoming June sales. A fine example of Heilmann’s painting practice is  Mint Serape from 1997.  Based on traditional textile serapes from Mexico, Heilmann’s painting relies on the geometric structure of the woven version, yet changes the whole feeling of the composition with a painterly brushstroke and uneven lines that blend into each other. Stripes are a recurring motif in Heilmann’s work, influenced by the bold color combinations seen in Latin American textiles, Heilmann incorporates stripes in her paintings as well as her furniture design. Geometrically shaped cube chairs, called Clubchairs,  are fitted with brightly colored polypropylene webbing used in standard-issue beach chairs, bringing Heilmann’s sense of form and light to functional, everyday objects. Along with the chairs, Heilmann created a table with ceramic inserts  reminiscent of her paintings of amorphous floating shapes.  In addition to furniture, Heilmann continues to make ceramics, creating useful tableware objects as well as sculptural ones. Also included in this collection is a beautiful red glazed plate that is the epitome of Heilmann’s use of saturated color and harkens back to the influence of her early studio days in light-drenched California.

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