Check out my article about Loren MacIver in The Brooklyn Rail’s March issue.
“In my first college painting course, which I took several years after completing an art history degree, my teacher Arnold Trachtman said that my painting of the bathroom sink reminded him of Loren MacIver’s work. I had no idea who she was, and without the convenience of the Internet, never looked her up. But 20 years later, when I saw that the Alexandre Gallery was presenting an exhibition of her paintings, I recalled Arnie’s offhand remark and made a pilgrimage of sorts up to 57th Street.
“After seeing MacIver’s work, I wondered how such an accomplished and distinctive painter could have flown so completely outside my radar. A lifelong New Yorker, MacIver died in 1998 at 90. The Pierre Matisse Gallery took her on in the late 1940s, back in the days when galleries rarely represented women, and kept showing and selling her work for fifty years. The prevailing story is that she was largely self-taught, and that what minimal art training she had consisted of Saturday classes at the Art Student’s League when she was ten. It’s said she did not crave fame, and was reticent about her work, which depicts the objects and incidents of her daily life in a fragile, ethereal style reminiscent of Marc Chagall and Paul Klee. Although her name isn’t as well-known as female contemporaries like Georgia O’Keefe, she represented the United States at the 1962 Venice Biennale, had a retrospective at the Whitney, and placed work in many prestigious collections….
“Unlike the iconic painters of the day—the Pollocks, Newmans, Rothkos, and Reinhardts—who were intent on changing the course of art history, she eschewed theory and resisted the urge to contrive elegant commentary to satisfy art critics. ‘I have no theories of art,’ she said in a 1993 ArtNews interview with Jonathan Santlofer. ‘I don’t know if that’s good or bad. It’s just me.'” Read more.
NYTimes Art in Review: Loren MacIver