Mary Heilmann

Autumn Wave (2012)

Edition of 175
15 colour screen print on Rives BFK
62 x 43 cm (24.5 x 17 in)
Signed, numbered and dated by the artist on the front
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With its popping palette of avocado and carrot, swimming-pool blue, fruity stains and psychedelic day-glo, this abstract composition of jaunty polygonal shapes rendered in exuberant brushstrokes spilling over their tarry black outlines, 'Autumn Wave' (2013) brims with all the directness and unabashed joie de vivre of the artist's best work.

Mary Heilmann has been described as using "20th century art history as her personal toy box" and indeed here are elements of Colour Field painting and Minimalism, injected with a distinctive punky and revitalising energy. This playful approach has long been a characteristic of Heilmann's work: "When I was about seven, I went away to camp and our art counsellor taught us how to do 'Modern Art' by drawing loopy lines around and around the page and then filling the loops in with different colours. I never forgot that." Elating and airy, 'Autumn Wave' reflects the artist's broader philosophical disposition - a pluralistic, anti-hierarchical stance.
Mary Heilmann is known for her brightly coloured abstract paintings. Inspired by minimalism, road trips, 50s beat culture, colour field painting and autobiographical memoirs, Heilmann's work arose in response to - or perhaps more accurately, in spite of - the artistic circle with which she was affiliated in the 1960s, primarily sculptors such as Bruce Nauman and Richard Serra, Donald Judd and Robert Smithson. Having first trained as a sculptor in her home state of California, she began creating abstract paintings on unusual geometric stretchers in the1960s. Her explosive paintings belie a steely intelligence and a profound philosophical approach. As the artist says,

"I love lines, dots, drippy brushstrokes, polygons, blends, morphs and swirls. I love sticks with stripes on them. Looking at abstract art is for me like doing non-verbal philosophy, symbolic logic or non-number mathematics. It is like music, because it has a narrative without a story, without people: a drama without words." Mary Heilmann was born in San Francisco in 1940. She lives and works in New York.