I think that certain proportions actually realign my psyche when you look at them. They put your psyche in order. And those are what I search for.

Mary Corse

Mary Corse b. 1945

A member of the Los Angeles art scene in the 1960s, painter Mary Corse developed her own methods of capturing fluctuating light and its changing perspectives, creating dynamic surfaces in her structurally minimalist paintings. A lifelong Californian, she was born in Berkeley, gained her Master’s degree from the Chouinard Art Institute (now the California Institute of the Arts and the alma mater of fellow artists Larry Bell and Robert Irwin), then built her studio in Topanga Canyon.

Dubbed a Light and Space painter, Mary Corse asserts that she does not treat light as something external in the environment, but as something of her own creation within: as she has put it, she is “absolutely not a landscape painter . . . It's total internal vision.” Early recognition came for her series of Plexiglas cases housing fluorescent light bulbs. In 1968, she changed direction when she applied tiny prismatic glass beads (or “microspheres,” the kind found embedded in some highway signs and line dividers), to paint before brushing the mixture onto prepped canvases. Corse describes the overall effect: “my paintings are not reflective!. . .They create a prism that brings the surface into view. I like that because it brings the viewer into the light as well.”

Corse’s light paintings are seemingly austere and blank, in various shades of white acrylic paint, but the innovative material shimmers and responds to changing light and to the viewer’s movement. In this way, Corse “brings the viewer into the light” and questions the nature of both color and perception.

Corse has been included in three significant historical group exhibitions that trace the history of Los Angeles conceptual art: 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 (2011–2012) at the J. Paul Getty Museum, and Phenomenal: California Light and Space (2011), at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Her works are in many permanent collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Fondation Beyeler. She continues to receive commercial and critical success.