Mary Corse b. 1945, Berkeley, California
Glass microspheres in acrylic on canvas
96 x 96 inches (243.8 x 243.8 cm)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Gift, The Theodoron Foundation, 1971
Mary Corse’s subtle, shimmering paintings emerged from Southern California’s Light and Space movement of the 1960s. She initially experimented with three-dimensional structures of neon tubing encased in narrow Plexiglas boxes, which emit an eerie, transcendental light without revealing the source and mechanisms that energize them. In 1968, Corse turned to the more traditional medium of painting on canvas. Of her signature White Light paintings, which are composed of miniscule glass beads embedded in acrylic paint, she explains, “they create a prism that brings the surface into view. I like that because it brings the viewer into the light as well.” The iridescent surface of Light Painting (1971) engages the viewer’s perception by changing according to the angle from which it is seen. Despite the more conventional format, physical presence, and painstaking craftsmanship of her paintings, Corse’s central preoccupation is not form but light and the perception of the intangible.