New York

Mary Ann Currier

Alexander F. Milliken

Mary Ann Currier is one of the most daring and original figures in the field of contemporary realism. Working in recent years with the medium of oil pastel, she has developed the still life into a powerful vehicle of personal expression. Her ability to capture appearance with uncanny precision, using a style of meticulous rendering that is nevertheless highly gestural, gives her forms a tremendous vitality.

In her latest series of still lifes, Currier charges the element of viewpoint—the angle and scale of presentation—not only with the twin tasks of shaping space and framing the subject, but also with sparking a whole train of associations. Currier employs the same basic format throughout. Books serve as pedestals for postcard reproductions of well-known works of art. For example, in Orange Ingres, 1989, Currier depicts Ingres’ La Source, 1856. In Plums van der Weyden, 1989, she reproduces the titled artist’s Portrait of a Lady, ca. 1460. The fruit and postcard art can be taken as symbols of the worlds of nature and art. However, it is the manner in which they are juxtaposed that is critical to their success. Consider, for instance, the tension built into the construction of Orange Ingres between the orange on its white plate, resting atop the book, and the postcard peeking out from between the pages of the book. At first glance, the composition almost looks casual, randomly assembled. But the work’s sophisticated design is revealed in the way the different planes are balanced with one another. Each image creates its own iconic context. The surface and its illusionistic space become a threshold between the everyday and the universal.

Ronny Cohen