Kayne Griffin Corcoran is honored to present At the Edge of Things: Baer, Corse, Martin, an exhibition of works by three generations of American abstract artists. The exhibition will be on view September 14 to November 2, 2019.
At the Edge of Things explores the phenomenological possibilities of abstraction in the work of three artists over the past sixty years. Focused on the artists’ deep engagement with notions of dimensional space and perception, the exhibition offers a new perspective on the tropes of hard-edge painting. The works of Jo Baer, Mary Corse and Agnes Martin combine form, line, and color in surfaces with flat boundaries, each examining the idea of negative space as a repudiation of representation and subject, in favor of a purity of form. At the Edge of Things establishes an implicit conversation between these artists and their engagement with Minimalism, radicality, and the metaphysical in painting.
For Martin, the notion of the edge as a formal tool is most clearly manifested in her use of the grid and compositions of wide bands of pale color. These pictorial devices offered a way for Martin to extract subjectivity, allowing her to paint with her “back to the world”. Her works further eliminate the possibility of representation interfering with the purity of the picture plane. With austere pencil lines and grids superimposed on subdued fields of wash and color, Martin’s Untitled #7 (1984) and Untitled #2 (1991) establish a spatial language that she would refine and reinterpret over ensuing decades. In contrast to the work of hard-edged painters like Frank Stella and Josef Albers, the edges Martin created with lines of graphite and bands of color were often subtly blurred, exaggerating the visual sensitivity required to navigate her surfaces, allowing each painting to “come-into-being” through the perception of the viewer.
Over the past five decades, Corse’s practice has investigated perception, properties of light and ideas of abstraction—all through an innovative approach to the medium of painting, in which light serves as both the subject and object of art. The works on view in this exhibition span from the early stage of Corse’s career in the 1960s — Untitled (White Diamond, Positive Stripe) (1965) — through to two new paintings premiering in this show — Untitled (White Multiband, Beveled) (2019) and Untitled (White Inner Band, Beveled) (2019). In 1968, Corse discovered glass microspheres, an industrial material used in street signs and dividing lines on highways.
Combining these tiny refractive beads with acrylic paint, she creates paintings that appear to radiate light from within and produce shifts in appearance contingent on their surroundings and the viewer’s position. Corse’s geometric vocabulary explores compositional and perceptual possibilities in the space between each tonal field, amplifying the phenomenological capacity of painting. Throughout her work, Corse emphasizes the abstract nature of human perception, expanding beyond the visual to include subtleties of feeling and awareness.
The exhibition also includes several paintings by Jo Baer made during the 1960s — the early phase of the artist’s career, during which her minimal abstract paintings utilized the edges of planar forms, line, and color to explore the nature of perception. In her work Untitled (White Square Lavender) (1964–74), the predominately white, square canvas is surrounded by a black border outlined by a thin line of pale lavender, a style of painting she explored until the 1970s. Prompted by the artist’s fascination with the physiological experience of painting, Baer’s early abstract canvases emphasize the spectator’s act of looking, while highlighting the illusory potential of a seemingly blank, or flat, space.
Curator Anthony Huberman, who has contributed a new text for this show, has previously written: “The eye always looks for boundaries, edges, and contours, a phenomenon Baer tests in an intuitive process of trial and error […] Baer knows that a painting involves more than the sum of its parts, so she carries an image to its edge — the place where the eye is compelled to take over — and pushes it to transcend its own silence, spill over, and go elsewhere.”
At the Edge of Things: Baer, Corse, Martin travels to Kayne Griffin Corcoran from Pace Gallery in London, where it was on view June 7 – August 7, 2019.
Jo Baer (b. 1929, Seattle, Washington) has engaged in an ongoing commitment to painting for over five decades. In the 1960s and 70s, she explored non-objectivity in her black- and white-squared and rectangular hard-edge paintings as part of the New York Minimalist community. In 1975, she left New York for Europe, eventually settling in Amsterdam after years spent in Ireland and London. Through the course of her move to Europe, Baer’s work shifted away from pure abstraction, gradually adding figural elements, text, found images and symbols into monochromatic backgrounds.
Baer has been the subject of one-artist exhibitions at institutions worldwide, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 1975; Van Abbe Museum, Einhaven, Netherlands, in 1978 and 1986; Secession, Vienna, 2008; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, in 2013; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, in 1999 and 2013; and Camden Arts Centre, London, in 2015. Significant recent group exhibitions include the Busan Biennale, Busan Museum of Art, Korea, in 2012; Selections from the Permanent Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in 2014; Drawing Dialogues: Selections from the Sol LeWitt Collection, The Drawing Center, New York, in 2016; Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, in 2016; Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2017; and Calder to Kelly, Die amerikanische Sammlung, Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, in 2017.
Her works are part of numerous public collections, such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Gallery, London; and the Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main.
Mary Corse (b. 1945, Berkeley, California) earned her BFA from Chouinard Art Institute (now California Institute of Arts) in 1968. She has shown extensively in the US and abroad in the decades since, including such historically significant exhibitions as Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950 – 1970 (2011) at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, which later traveled to the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin; Phenomenal: California Light and Space (2011) at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; and Venice in Venice (2011), an official collateral exhibition of the 54th Venice Biennale.
Corse is currently the subject of a significant three-year installation at DIA: Beacon, featuring prominent historic works from DIA’s permanent collection, as well as an extensive survey exhibition that will opened at Los Angeles County Museum of Art on July 28, 2019, following a recent presentation at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Corse’s works reside in the permanent collections of the Dia Art Foundation, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Menil Collection, Houston; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the J. Paul Getty Museum; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., among many others. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the Cartier Foundation Award (1993), National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1975), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s Theodoran Award (1971), and Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s New Talent Award (1967). She lives and works in Topanga Canyon, California.
Agnes Martin (b. 1912, Macklin, Saskatchewan, Canada; d. 2004, Taos, New Mexico) imparted a legacy of abstraction that has inspired generations of artists. Using a limited palette and a geometric vocabulary, her works are inscribed with lines or grids that hover over subtle grounds of color. Martin’s work is recognized as pure abstraction, in which space, metaphysics and internal emotional states are explored through painting, drawing and printmaking. Inspired by the transcendent qualities of paintings by Mark Rothko and Ad Reinhardt, Martin considered herself to be an Abstract Expressionist. Nonetheless, her oeuvre played a critical role in heralding the advent of Minimalism, influencing, among others, Eva Hesse’s sculptural practice and Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings. Her paintings negotiate the confines of structure and space, eliciting a purity of form without language.
Martin is the recipient of numerous awards including the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1997 and the National Medal of Arts in 1998. She has been the subject of one-artist exhibitions worldwide, including a five-part retrospective at Dia: Beacon, New York, in 2007, and a 2015 retrospective at Tate Modern, London, which travelled to Kunstsammlung NRW, Düsseldorf; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
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