Neuberger Museum of Art

Purchase, New York

(914) 251-6100


Mary Frank: Encounters


The artist Mary Frank initially established her reputation as a figurative sculptor in clay. Although she had always expressed herself through paintings, drawings and prints, it was not until the mid-eighties that she seriously began to concentrate her talent and energy on these media as a means of continuing her interest in a personal vocabulary of shapes and images that mirror innately spiritual qualities. (left: Red Ship, 1995, oil and acrylic on panel, 24 3/8 x 30 7/8 inches)

On September 17, 2000, the Neuberger Museum of Art will present "Mary Frank: Encounters," an exhibition featuring forty works from this powerful chapter in Mary Frank's career. The exhibition includes drawings, multi-paneled paintings, paintings on metal and glass, and paintings with ceramic inserts. It will be on display through January 7, 2001.

The exhibition highlights many of Ms. Frank's recent triptychs, which she has executed with great intensity and style. The triptych is a time-honored art form originally associated with religious inspiration. Mary Frank uses the form to present a parallel spiritual life. Her closed, outer panels present an image that frequently differs from the inside representations that are exposed when the viewer opens them. Energy emerges from a communion and identity with nature and an association of images and active paint surfaces. The physical engagement between viewer and painting heightens the experience. (right: What Color Lament?, 1881-93, Detail IV, acrylic and oil on board, 70 x 168 inches, DC Moore Gallery, NY)

In her evolution from ceramic work to oil paint, Mary Frank retained her extraordinary ability to draw, her sensitivity to texture and her interest in tonality and color. Her use of color is a primary component of her emotive and evocative work, and she has chosen an expressionistic association of warm and cool hues. Her orange-red is reminiscent of early Italian Renaissance masters; she frequently juxtaposes it with a vivid blue to produce striking results. In Mary Frank's hands, white and black take on the richness of blended and layered pigment.

Nature resonating in many of Ms. Frank's recurring images - owls, trees, flowers, landscapes, forests, mountains - can portray turbulence and stillness. Her idiosyncratic oeuvre depicts a physicality that the viewer immediately and intuitively is drawn to.

"Mary Frank is profoundly poetic," says Judy Collischan, Ph.D., Neuberger Museum of Art Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs who is organizing the exhibition. "In expanding her media, she has created a mythology that is private in origin but universally moving. Through her use of paint and color, she has retained the remarkable ability to render figurative motifs perceptively and discerningly. Viewers identify with Mary Frank's imaginary figures, landscapes and creatures on emotional, philosophical, and psychological levels."(left: Woman/Fire, 1991-96, oil on canvas, 36 x 39 inches, DC Moore Gallery, NY)

Mary Frank was born in London in 1933. She is the only child of American-born painter, Eleanore Lockspeiser, and the prominent English musicologist and critic, Edward Lockspeiser. As a child, Mary began dancing classes, studied to be a circus performer, but finally started to concentrate on art. In her early work, she drew and carved in wood. Later, she used plaster, bronze and clay. Mary Frank made numerous posters and has created set designs.

Her first retrospective exhibition was held at the Neuberger Museum of Art in 1978. In 1988, "Natural Histories: Mary Frank's Sculptures, Prints, and Drawings," a retrospective exhibition of her work, originated at the DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA and traveled to the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY, and The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Since then, she has had numerous one-person shows, including several recent exhibitions of paintings at the DC Moore Gallery, who represents her. She also shows her work at Elena Zang Gallery in Woodstock, N.Y.

Mary Frank has received two Guggenheim awards. She was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1984. Her work can be found in the collections of The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Neuberger Museum of Art.

In 1990, Abrams published Hayden Herrera's monograph, Mary Frank. Ms. Frank has collaborated on numerous books, including Skies in Blossom: The Mature Poetry of Emily Dickinson, Jonathan Cott, editor, Mary Frank, illustrator, Doubleday and Co,, 1995; Shadows of Africa, by Peter Matthiessen and Mary Frank, Abrams, 1992; and Desert Quartet, an Erotic Landscape, by Terry Tempest Williams and Mary Frank, Pantheon, 1995.

An illustrated catalogue that includes an essay by art historian Linda Nochlin accompanies the exhibition.

Read more about the Neuberger Museum of Art in Resource Library Magazine

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.


This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 2/28/11

Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2011 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.