The gallery is pleased to announce Loren MacIver: The Poetry of Objects, a survey exhibition of paintings and drawings dating from 1935 through the early 1980s, spanning the artist’s career. The show will include sixteen paintings and a selection of works on paper.
The title refers to MacIver’s frequent depiction of objects from her quotidian surroundings, both in New York and in France. From Elizabeth Bishop’s rosary to Etruscan vases at the Metropolitan or objects on a fire escape, these works describe ephemera and bibelots of daily life. The intensity of MacIver’s focus on sensuous fleeting objects keeps them in the world. Her interest is in the tenuous, transparent, and the easily overlooked. Often the objects take on a form of hieroglyph, as in Patisserie, where rows of abstracted pastries become symbolic. Her images are created in a soft, glowing light and often have the quality of being lit from within. Her use of pale washes of color, delicate line, all-over composition, and semi- abstraction work toward her goal “to make something permanent out of the transitory.”
Poets were an integral part of MacIver’s social milieu. She was married to Lloyd Frankenberg and was life-long friends with Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, e.e. cummings and Dylan Thomas. Her paintings have few direct corollaries to their work, though a record exists through correspondence. Marianne Moore responded to MacIver’s first exhibition at Pierre Matisse Gallery in 1940 by writing “restrained, unagressively concealed almost, but unmistakable poems.” Curator Debra Bricker Balken writes,
. . .that Moore read paintings such as Etruscan Vases, Case No. 40 as a ‘poem’ reinforces the lyrical content of MacIver’s work, while establishing a parallel or connection to poetry. Certain structural similarities exist in the reduced or ‘restrained’ configuration of Etruscan Vases, Case No. 40 and the ensuing Votive Light Series, and the terse format of the poem, both these kind of analogies remain, again, generalized, operating more as a point of comparison than a specific reference or influence. The distillation of essentially transcendent subject matter—the magic and illusory nature of light—into the medium of painting merge as the ‘visual poetics’ of MacIver’s work.”
Highlights of MacIver’s biography include the 1946 landmark exhibition Fourteen Americans organized by Dorothy Miller at the Museum of Modern Art. The Whitney Museum presented a retrospective of her work in 1953. In 1962 her work represented the United States at the 31st Venice Biennale. She was represented by Pierre Matisse Gallery for fifty years. In 1989 she was awarded the first Lee Krasner Award from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Her work is included in major public collections such as The Art Institute of Chicago, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, The Phillips Collection and Whitney Museum of American Art.