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Mavis Pusey. Photo: Mavis Pusey Archive.
Mavis Pusey. Photo: Mavis Pusey Archive.

Mavis Pusey (1928–2019)

Mavis Pusey, a Jamaican-born artist whose geometric abstraction was often inspired by Manhattan architecture and its endless cycle of assembly, destruction, and rebirth, died on April 20 in Virginia. She was ninety years old.

In the 1940s, Pusey moved from Kingston to New York, where she studied at the Art Students League on a scholarship from the Ford Foundation and became a mentee of the American painter and printmaker Will Barnet. “My work consists of geometrical forms in a variety of geometrical configurations,” she once said. “These forms are based on buildings around the Manhattan area. I am inspired by the energy and the beat of the construction and demolition of these buildings—the tempo and movement mold into a synthesis and, for me, become another aesthetic of abstraction.”

After moving in international art circles in New York, London, and Paris, and teaching at institutions such as Rutgers University and the New School for Social Research, Pusey moved to Virginia in 1988. Over the course of her career, she received awards from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and was included in the 1971 “Contemporary Black Artists in America” exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Her work is held in the permanent collections of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and the Birmingham Museum of Art.