September 11, 2019
MARY ABBOTT (1921–2019)
September 11, 2019


MARY ABBOTT (1921–2019)
September 11, 2019

American painter Mary Abbott, who used bold colors and gestural brushstrokes “to draw the imagination,” died on August 23 at ninety-eight years old. Abbott, whose influence permeated the circle of Abstract Expressionists she belonged to, created vivid oil paintings and watercolors often inspired by nature and her travels. “I like the process of painting. The intensity of living nature through myself—using the medium, paint, color, and line defining the poetry of living space; that is my aim, life and work,” Abbott once said.

Abbott was among the artists included in “Women of Abstract Expressionism,” the first museum exhibition ever dedicated exclusively to the pioneering women of the AbEx movement. Curated by Gwen Chanzit and presented at the Denver Museum of Art in 2016, the show also included the work of Jay DeFeo, Helen Frankenthaler, Sonia Gechtoff, Judith Godwin, Grace Hartigan, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Deborah Remington, and Ethel Schwabacher.

Born in New York City in 1921, Abbott, a descendent of US presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, knew she wanted to pursue art at a young age. When she was seventeen, she studied at the Arts Student League under the tutelage of George Grosz and went on to attend the Corcoran Museum School in Washington, DC, where she took classes with Eugene Weiss. In addition to painting, she also had a career as a model and has been featured on the covers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

In 1943, Abbott married Lewis R. Teague, a painter and soldier in the US Army. Abbott moved around with Teague as he was assigned to different posts until they split in 1946. That same year, the artist relocated to Greenwich Village in New York, where she found an apartment on Tenth Street, now synonymous with the community of artists who would carve out a postwar avant-garde. Not long after she befriended David Hare, who introduced her to the experimental school Subjects of the Artist—where she met and learned from Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko—and Willem de Kooning, who invited her to join “The Club,” a group that gathered weekly in the East Village to drink and discuss art. The only other female members of the clique were Perle Fine and Elaine de Kooning.

Abbott would eventually marry the businessman Tom Clyde, with whom she travelled to the islands of the Caribbean, where the tropical foliage fueled her creative output. When the union ended in 1966, she became a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Ten years later, she returned to New York, where she maintained homes in Manhattan and Southampton. Over the course of her career, Abbott exhibited her work at galleries such as Kootz, Tibor de Nagy, and Tanager, as well as at the Museum of Modern Art, among other museums, and was represented by the McCormick Gallery in Chicago.

Mary Abbott in her Saint Croix studio in the early 1950s. Courtesy of McCormick Gallery, Chicago.

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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