“When I start a picture I like to use the medium as directly as I can . . . [this] puts me in a state of mind which avoids pictorial constraints. I try to use paint for its brilliance, transparency, opacity, liquidity, weight, warmth and coolness. These qualities guide me in a process which will determine the climate of the picture. All the while I work to define spatial relationships, resulting in certain kinds of places. I cannot name them but know intuitively when they appear.”
— EMILY MASON (1932-2019)
Born and raised in New York City, Emily Mason’s art education began in the studio with her mother Alice Trumbull Mason, a founding member of the American Abstract Artists. A graduate of New York City’s High School of Music and Art, she attended Bennington College and The Cooper Union. In 1956, she was awarded a two-year Fulbright Grant to paint in Venice, Italy. There, she studied at the Accademia delle Belle Arti where she first experimented with blotting and transferring paint onto the surface of the canvas. In 1957, at the Ponte de Rialto, Mason married painter Wolf Kahn (1927-2020), with whom she had two daughters.
Since she emerged on the Tenth Street gallery scene in 1960 with Area Gallery, Mason has exhibited regularly in New York City. In 1979 she was awarded the Ranger Fund Purchase Prize by the National Academy of Design. For over 30 years, Mason taught painting at Hunter College. Her work is included in numerous public and private collections.
In 2006, George Braziller published Emily Mason: The Fifth Element, a comprehensive treatment of her work by David Ebony and Robert Berlind. In 2015, University Press of New England released her second monograph, Emily Mason: The Light in Spring, featuring prints and paintings since 2005, edited by Ani Boyajian with text by David Ebony and Christina Weyl.
Mason passed away on 10 December 2019, the birthdate of her namesake, Emily Dickinson.
Six cultural institutions to be awarded $800,000 in grant initiative honoring the joint legacy of the 62-years-married artists Wolf Kahn and Emily Mason
NEW YORK, NY - MILES McENERY GALLERY is pleased to announce results for Christie’s “Fields of Vision: The Private Collection of Artists Wolf Kahn and Emily Mason.” The auction included an online sale that took place from 6 May - 20 May 2021, with a dedicated live sale on 18 May 2021.
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Artist Emily Mason’s 4,700-Square-Foot Studio Is Just As She Left It.
She painted there for 40 years.
The artist Emily Mason died at age 87 in December 2019, but you can still feel the joyful presence of her work in her bright studio in the Flatiron District. She painted here for 40 years (in the winter months, anyway; from May to October, she worked at her country place in Vermont).
Emily Mason passed away in 2019 at the age of 87. She left behind two daughters, four grandchildren, innumerable adoring friends, and one of the most sustainedly dazzling bodies of work in postwar American painting.
A rare opportunity to compare and contrast the work of two very different painters
"Artists, lovers, life-partners, art-world rivals, benefactors, and luminaries, Emily Mason (1932–2019) and Wolf Kahn (1927–2020) were all of these things—and more. Miles McEnery Gallery has devoted each of its two spaces to the first posthumous solo gallery exhibitions for the couple, who died within months of each other after more than sixty years of marriage. The shows offer a rare opportunity to compare and contrast the work of two very different painters—one abstract and the other figurative—who shared a passion for vibrant color, the bucolic landscapes of Vermont and Italy, and who both aimed in their works for pure, soul-baring expressivity."
"In looking at the canvases of Emily Mason now on view at Miles McEnery, however, we sense not so much a relation to a certain place or thing, but a lifetime of visual experiences put down onto canvas through a keen process of filtering, something like Joan Mitchell’s translation of the gardens of Vétheuil in her soaring panels of the 1970s and ’80s. The result in Mason’s work is necessarily nonspecific yet points nonetheless toward layers of feeling: light reflected off a rippling canal, a gleaming gold surface, flowers in mid-summer."
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Known as a consummate colorist in her brilliantly hued painterly abstractions, Emily Mason died on December 10, 2019, age 87, at her home in Vermont after a prolonged battle with cancer. December 10 is the birthday of her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson, and Mason regarded each of her paintings as a visual poem, aiming for the expressive, and—dare I say—spiritual quality that she found in Dickinson’s verse. Mason, however, would never admit such lofty ambitions for her art. Although her artistic ambition was obvious to me and to others around her, in the passion for painting that she exuded, and the monumental body of work she produced, Mason always maintained a consistently sincere degree of modesty—sometimes bordering on unwarranted self-effacement—about her goals and achievements.
Emily Mason, Who Created Colorful Canvases, Is Dead at 87.
Part of a family of artists, she was known for creating abstract works by a process she liked to call “letting a painting talk to you.”
For more than 50 years, Emily Mason, an abstract painter in a family of painters, would spend winters in Manhattan, where she had a studio in the Flatiron district, and the warmer months in Brattleboro, Vt., where she and her husband, the painter Wolf Kahn, also had a home.
Renowned abstract painter Emily Mason to speak at BMAC on Friday, 19 October
Free talk by the 86-year-old artist is presented in connection with a major exhibition of her work at Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
Brattleboro Museum & Art Center is pleased to present:
Emily Mason: To Another Place
5 October 2018 – 10 February 2019
Opening reception: Friday, 5 October at 5:30 pm
Artist Talk: Friday, 19 October at 7 pm
THERE ARE NO BOUNDARIES IN THE WORLD OF COLOR. Travelers who wander there find it filled with infinite possibility, a universe limited only by their willingness to experiment, explore and reach into the unknown. Painter Emily Mason has followed her intuition into these lands for more than six decades, traveling through the looking glass to produce an original body of work that mesmerizes and excites its viewers as few American abstractionists have done before.
FOR AN ARTIST who emerged from the Sturm-und-Drang driven Abstract Expressionist movement of 1950s New York, Emily Mason's work is remarkably serene. This quality is not only apparent in the way vibrant swaths of oil paint harmonize with each other on the canvas; it also comes through in the way her career has quietly percolated along through the decades since, without drama or self-promotion, with no clearly delineated sty listic phases or periods. Mason, now 86, is still making new work the way she always has-by intuition, without any need for theo ries, without measuring herself against others.
Emily Mason: A Painting Experience is a short documentary portrait about the prolific visual artist Emily Mason. With a career spanning over six decades, this film presents Mason as a shy yet innovative figure in American art, a pioneer in the field of lyrical abstraction, and a master of the so-called "poetry of color".
by David Ebony
While a younger generation of artists, led by Katharina Grosse, Carol Bove, and others, are finding renewed significance and surprising rewards in extemporaneous abstract painting and sculpture, certain veterans like Emily Mason never lost faith in its limitless possibilities. Mason is heir to a long lineage of artistic forebears, perhaps most notably her mother, Alice Trumbull Mason, who was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group in the mid-1930s. Emily’s childhood memories include visits from Mondrian, and watching Miró paint in a studio adjacent to her mother’s. Painting was in her blood, but she diverged from her mother’s penchant for hard-edge abstraction, and instead gravitated in the 1950s toward a more informal, intuitive process centered on color relationships and fluid gestures, which she has been developing and refining ever since. Her expansive and elusive compositions in some way establish a vital link between Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting.
by Peter Malone
Emily Mason, a painter whose work represents both a unique marriage of understatement and gestural expression and a union of vibrant color and minimalist reserve, receives an examined look at her recent work at Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe Gallery.
Measured by Mason’s simultaneous participation in the “Inventing Downtown” show at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery—a show about artist-run galleries in the early 1950s—the artist’s career has been built on decades of developing a painterly language loose enough to allow multiple voicing, yet purposeful enough to assert a lone sensibility.
Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe in New York is hosting an exhibition of the works of artist Emily Mason, on view through 11 February 2017.
The exhibition presents a series of recent paintings by American painter Emily Mason (b. 1932). Known for works that celebrate the expressive possibilities of color, each painting by Emily Mason are impregnated with individual mood and captures specific emotional and chromatic temperature, invigorated with her nuanced touch. Sheets of vibrant hues with varying density fill across her canvases, as flat expanses merge with delicate clusters of pigment, creating deceptively complex compositions. Over six decades, the artist has explored through her distinctive style of lyrical, luminous abstraction, which reflects through her paintings executed in oil, carrying a sense of intriguing intimacy combined with uncompromising yet gentle intensity.
When a call went out online recently for an art world protest strike — “no work, no school, no business” — on Inauguration Day, more than 200 artists, most based in New York, many well known, quickly signed on. In numbers, they represent a mere fraction of the present art world, and there was reason to expect the list would grow. By contrast, in New York in the 1950s, 200 artists pretty much were that world, and one divided into several barely tangent circles.
That era’s cultural geometry has been badly in need of study, and now it’s getting some in a labor-of-love exhibition called “Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965,” at the Grey Art Gallery at New York University. With nearly 230 objects, it’s big and has its share of stars. But it’s not a masterpiece display. It’s something almost better: a view of typical — rather than outstanding — art, of familiar artists looking unfamiliar, and of strangers you’re glad to meet. It looks the way history looks before the various MoMAs get their sanitizing hands on it: funky, diverse, down to earth, with things to teach us now.
Examining the New York art scene during the fertile years between the apex of Abstract Expressionism and the rise of Pop Art and Minimalism, Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952–1965 is the first show ever to survey this vital period from the vantage point of its artist-run galleries—crucibles of experimentation and innovation that radically changed the art world. With more than 200 paintings, sculptures, installations, drawings, photographs, ephemera, and films, the show reveals a scene that was much more diverse than has previously been acknowledged, with women and artists of color playing major roles. It features works by abstract and figurative painters and sculptors, as well as pioneers of installation and performance art. Artists range from well-known figures such as Jim Dine, Red Grooms, Allan Kaprow, Alex Katz, Yayoi Kusama, Claes Oldenburg, Yoko Ono, and Mark di Suvero, to those who deserve to be better known, including Emilio Cruz, Lois Dodd, Rosalyn Drexler, Sally Hazelet Drummond, Jean Follett, Lester Johnson, Boris Lurie, Jan Müller, and Aldo Tambellini.
Inventing Downtown is curated by Melissa Rachleff, clinical associate professor in NYU’s Steinhardt School.