Garden of Delights: Select Paintings by Mary Henry

This solo exhibition opens MAY 13 with a reception from 6 – 8 pm

Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art is pleased to present this solo exhibition Garden of Delights: Select Paintings by Mary Henry.  Mary Henry is regarded by many curators and critics to be one of the most important artists from the Northwest working in the past century.  Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art believes it is essential to keep significant NW artists in front of the public through focused shows such as this one devoted to Mary Henry, a “Matriarch of Modernism”.

Born in 1913, Mary Henry attended the California College of Arts and Crafts at a time few women were sincerely accepted by the public and the art world as artists. Then, in the late '30s, Henry experienced a life-­‐altering moment whose full effect wouldn't command her life for another 25 years or so: a lecture by the Hungarian Constructivist pioneer and Bauhaus champion Laszlo Moholy-­‐Nagy.  So impressed with her work and discipline, Moholy-­‐Nagy offered Henry a job teaching with him at the “new” Bauhaus school he had started in Chicago, the Institute of Design. This was during a time when he had never hired any women teachers.  She turned him down, graduating with an MFA in 1946.

Henry was gripped by Bauhaus' formal ideas and Moholy-­‐Nagy's fascination with pure expressiveness through line and color. Those ideas brewed and steeped in Henry's imagination as she lived a life of domesticity: married with children.  It wasn't until 1964, the year she got divorced and became a working artist, that Henry would truly pursue her ambitions.

Like other artists of the time, she was handicapped because she was a woman. Mary Henry wanted to be recognized as an artist period, not as a ‘woman artist’. High praise for a woman was that ‘she paints like a man’
— Lois Allan, “Matriarchs of Modernism”

Thus initiated, Mary Henry’s artistic journey began to perfect a spare yet expressive visual language out of geometric shapes and bold graphic colors.  Henry emerges as a second-­‐generation geometric abstractionist and one of its most supple champions; she located spiritual essences in her work and elicited the highest passion. Through the years, Henry has garnered praise in Artforum, yet while her work has been exhibited widely and was collected in major Northwest museums, Henry has remained a kind of cult regional figure that the art world is just learning about.