Mary Corse (b. 1945, Berkeley, California) received her B.F.A. from the University of California in 1963, and her M.F.A. from the Chouinard Art Institute in 1968. Corse’s work was recently exhibited in several historically significant exhibitions including Venice in Venice, a collateral exhibition curated by Nyehaus in association with the J. Paul Getty Museum at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011); Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany (2011); Phenomenal: California Light and Space, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2011). Her works are in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Fondation Beyeler, Basel; Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation Collection, Los Angeles; Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Orange County Museum of Art at Newport Beach; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and other institutions public and private. The artist lives and works in Los Angeles, California.
Corse’s art practice is rooted in the viewer’s perception; she creates works that alter in appearance as they are physically and visually experienced. Reflective vertical bands of paint appear to brighten and become more illuminated, or darken and sink back into the canvas as the viewer changes position in relation to the painting.
Corse achieves this effect by using her unique technique of mixing the acrylic paint with microspheres—tiny reflective glass beads commonly used in the white lines of lane dividers on highways. Brushwork is also an important aspect of Corse’s technique, with the artist’s hand intentionally left visible on the canvas. Shifting light either exposes the brushwork and texture of the microspheres, or reveals a flattened, uniform surface. Corse’s painterly approach defines her work within the Light & Space Movement, setting her apart from her contemporaries who strive to remove all evidence of the artist’s touch for an almost mechanically perfect surface.