Rosemary Mayer

That '70s Show: Rosemary Mayer

May 18–May 21, 2023

That '70s Show is a joint project in which approximately 20 New York galleries present one or two artists who made work during the 1970s.

“The bodies are missing so that the abundant ridges, scallops, folds, and puckers of materials imply angelic visitors and imperative but unseen gestures...imagery moves from elliptical quotation to images of female presence.” —Rosemary Mayer, c. 1973

This selection of drawings from 1972 to 1976 captures Mayer’s lifelong and entwined fascination with fabric and flowers, drawn both from life and imagined. These materials and motifs enter into formal dialogue in Mayer’s work, and begin to resemble one another through shared attributes, like ridges, scallops, folds. These forms also create an impression of corporeal monumentality, pointing to the artist’s interest in the body and the interplay of its presence and absence.

Rosemary Mayer (1943–2014) was a prolific artist involved in the New York art scene beginning in the late 1960s. Most well-known for her large-scale sculptures made with fabric, she also created works on paper, artist’s books, and outdoor installations exploring themes of temporality, history, and biography. During the 1970s she had exhibitions at various New York City alternative spaces, including one of the earliest shows at A.I.R Gallery—the first cooperative gallery for women, of which she was a founding member. She was also a critic and writer, contributing to various journals of artists writings and creating an issue of the magazine Art-Rite. Her interest in art history, particularly in artists of the Mannerist period, resulted in her translation of Jacopo da Pontormo’s diary, which was published alongside a catalog of her work by Out of London Press in 1982. In the 1990s she began teaching art, eventually becoming a professor at LaGuardia Community College in Queens.

Since Mayer’s death in 2014, her estate has helped to organize exhibitions and publications of her work, beginning with an exhibition at Southfirst Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, in 2016, and the publication of excerpts from her 1971 journal. In 2020, her work was introduced to European audiences through Nick Mauss’s exhibition, Bizarre Silks, Private Imaginings and Narrative Facts, etc., at Kunsthalle Basel, and her first European solo exhibition, Rods Bent Into Bows, at ChertLüdde, Berlin. In 2021, Pleasures and Possible Celebrations, a solo show at Gordon Robichaux, New York, focused on her installations with balloons and related work. Her work was also included in Greater New York 2021 at MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York; Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and SIREN (some poetics) at Amant, Brooklyn, New York, in 2022.

The first institutional survey of her work, Ways of Attaching, opened at the Swiss Institute, New York, in fall 2021. It was reviewed in various publications, including Artforum, The New York Review of Books, The London Review of Books, and The Brooklyn Rail. The show was organized in partnership with Ludwig Forum, Aachen; Lenbachhaus, Munich; and Spike Island, Bristol, where the exhibition traveled in 2022. A catalog of this show was published in 2022.

Mayer’s work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Lenbachhaus, Munich; and numerous private collections.

Installation view: Rosemary Mayer in That 70s Show, New York, 2023

Untitled, 1972, Colored pencil and graphite on paper, 11¾ x 9 inches

Untitled (London), 1975, Watercolor and pen on paper, 12⅜ x 9½ inches

Untitled, 1972, Colored pencil and graphite on paper, 14 x 17 inches

Untitled (Anne's Balls), 1972, Colored pencil and graphite on paper, 11 x 14 inches

Untitled (crocus), 1976, Colored pencil on paper, 14 x 10¾ inches

Untitled (crocus), 1976, Colored pencil on paper 14 x 10¾ inches

The Second Angel Sleeve, 1973, Colored pencil on paper, 9 x 12 inches

Ephemera, The bodies are missing, c. 1973, 10 1/2 x 8 inches

Untitled (London), 1975, Watercolor and pen on paper, 9⅜ x 9½ inches

Dead Flower, Oneonta, 1976, Watercolor and pencil on paper, 10 x 13 inches


Tabboo!, Elisabeth Kley


Sept. 22–Nov. 10, 2019

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Gordon Robichaux