I’m done with a painting when there is something so compelling that I don’t want to lose it.
Mary Weatherford makes large paintings comprising grounds of spontaneously sponged paint on heavy linen canvases, often surmounted by one or more carefully shaped and placed colored neon tubes. The canvas—prepared with white gesso mixed with marble dust and worked on with Flashe paint, a highly pigmented but readily diluted emulsion—supports startlingly diverse applications of color. The surface of the paint ranges from matte and velvety to transparent and translucent. The canvas is at times densely filled, reading as a painterly continuum; at others, it shifts in color from edge to edge; and at yet others it contains clusters of marks set in relatively bare surroundings.
Weatherford received a BA in 1984 from Princeton University, where she took classes in studio art, art history, architecture, and engineering, and an MFA from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, in 2006. In her paintings of the 1990s and early 2000s, she incorporated assemblage elements such as seashells, sponges, and starfish within thin washes of Flashe color. These works gave way to the Vines paintings (2007–08), inspired by an intertwined network of ivy, followed by the Cave paintings (2010), a series based on Weatherford’s sustained observation, four years earlier, of a sea cave at Pismo Beach, where she produced small pencil drawings and paintings as the sunlight cast different shadows throughout the day.
In 2012 Weatherford was a visiting artist at California State University at Bakersfield. As she drove around the small city, she was intrigued by the colored neon signs of old factories and restaurants, some illuminated, some burned out. The Bakersfield Project (2012) grew out of these drives, and it was the first series in which Weatherford incorporated neon rods in her paintings. The rods are screwed directly into the canvas and are connected by thin wires, which create a three-dimensional drawing on top of the painted background and lead down to large magnetic transformers on the floor. Casting an industrial light onto the fields of color, the neon tubes read as hand-drawn lines across the surface, at times with a blinding brightness that creates lingering afterimages.
Weatherford’s use of color and light is based on her direct experience of specific locations, as well as her memories of such experiences. Manhattan (2013) and Los Angeles (2014), two major series following the Bakersfield works, additionally possess references to architectural and infrastructural details. Brooklyn Bridge (2013), from the Manhattan series, includes two neon rods—in warm yellow and turquoise—held together at their bases by a looped cord that recalls the suspension cables of the famous bridge. From the Mountain to the Sea (2014), from the Los Angeles series, attests to Weatherford’s interest not only in the city itself, but also in where the city meets nature, incorporating steely blues and grays with white and yellow lights that oscillate between the organic and the artificial.
In her paintings from 2017–18, Weatherford focuses on her responses to current events, linking them to her experience of premodern narrative pictorial compositions. She thinks of these new works as aspiring to the function of earlier history paintings, which tell of actual or mythological happenings to invoke fundamental and topical concerns.
Weatherford’s paintings expand the expressive potential of neon. Though appropriated by earlier artists for its consumerist and linguistic connotations, in Weatherford’s work the industrial material is transformed into a radically new form of abstract, pictorial drawing. In December 2020, Neon Paintings, an exhibition highlighting a selection of pivotal pieces from the last decade, opened at the Aspen Art Museum in Colorado. Weatherford’s first survey exhibition, Canyon—Daisy—Eden, a collection of works from the past thirty years, opened at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, in 2020. The survey exhibition later traveled to SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2021. Weatherford was the recipient of the 2021 Aspen Award for Art.
Friday, October 9, 2020
Featuring Thurston Moore and Hunter Drohojowska-Philp
For the first episode of Gagosian Premieres, we celebrate Mary Weatherford: Train Yards—a new exhibition at Gagosian, London—with an exclusive performance by Thurston Moore inside the gallery and a conversation between Mary Weatherford and Hunter Drohojowska-Philp in the artist’s Los Angeles studio.
Extended through February 27, 2021
September 22, 2020–February 27, 2021
Grosvenor Hill, London
Mary Weatherford: The Flaying of Marsyas
In conjunction with her exhibition The Flaying of Marsyas at Museo di Palazzo Grimani, Venice, Mary Weatherford discusses the featured paintings, which are directly inspired by Titian’s late, eponymous masterpiece of circa 1570–76 and reflect her enduring fascination with the painting.
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2022
The Summer 2022 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, with two different covers—featuring Takashi Murakami’s 108 Bonnō MURAKAMI.FLOWERS (2022) and Andreas Gursky’s V & R II (2022).
Mary Weatherford: The Flaying of Marsyas
Coinciding with the 59th Venice Biennale, an exhibition at the Museo di Palazzo Grimani in Venice presents new paintings by Mary Weatherford inspired by Titian’s The Flaying of Marsyas (c. 1570–76). Francine Prose traces the development of these works.
Mary Weatherford: Train Yards
Mary Weatherford speaks to Laura Hoptman about her new paintings, the Train Yard series. Begun in 2016, this body of work evokes the sights and sounds of railroads and night skies. The series will be shown for the first time in late 2020, in an exhibition at Gagosian, London.
Work in Progress
We visit the artist’s California studio as she prepares for her exhibition I’ve Seen Gray Whales Go By. She speaks with Jennifer Peterson about her new paintings, her studio process, and the artists who have inspired her.
Mary Weatherford: I’ve Seen Gray Whales Go By
Taking viewers behind the scenes during the installation of Mary Weatherford’s I’ve Seen Gray Whales Go By at Gagosian, New York, this video features interviews with the artist and John Elderfield.
After Frankenthaler: An Interview with Katy Siegel
Art historian Katy Siegel discusses her recent exhibition at the Rose Art Museum and publication “The heroine Paint”: After Frankenthaler with Gagosian’s Alison McDonald.
Talk and Book Signing
Saturday, January 20, 2024, 3pm
Gagosian, 980 Madison Avenue, New York
Join Gagosian for a conversation between Mary Weatherford and Chrissie Iles, curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, inside Sea and Space, the artist’s exhibition of new paintings and works on paper at Gagosian, 980 Madison Avenue, New York. Dominated by the color green, Weatherford’s paintings make visual reference to arboreal and aquatic environments, as well as outer space. The pair will discuss the inspiration and process behind these works, which are imbued with spatial illusion and a spirit of existential inquiry. Following the talk, the Gagosian Shop at 976 Madison Avenue will host a reception where Weatherford will sign copies of her new book, The Flaying of Marsyas, which documents her 2022 exhibition of the same title at Museo di Palazzo Grimani, Venice. Published by Gagosian, the book will be available for purchase at the event.
Mary Weatherford, Small Terracotta Event, 2023 © Mary Weatherford. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio
Art Basel 2023
June 13–18, 2022, Hall 2, booth B15
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel 2023 with modern and contemporary works by gallery artists, as well as special entries in the Unlimited and Parcours sections of the fair.
Gagosian’s presentation in the main section of Art Basel represents the breadth and diversity of the gallery’s programming through work by artists including John Currin, Andreas Gursky, Simon Hantaï, Tetsuya Ishida, Jia Aili, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Ewa Juszkiewicz, Rick Lowe, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Sarah Sze, Mary Weatherford, Anna Weyant, Rachel Whiteread, Stanley Whitney, and Jordan Wolfson, among others. Also featured are iconic works by Willem de Kooning, Gerhard Richter, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol.
Gagosian’s booth at Art Basel 2023. Artwork, left to right: © John Currin; © Rudolf Stingel; © 2023 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © 2023 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Jonas Wood; © Anna Weyant; © Jenny Saville; © Cy Twombly Foundation. Photo: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano
Taipei Dangdai 2023
May 12–14, 2023, booth E10
Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Taipei Dangdai 2023, presenting works by Louise Bonnet, Dan Colen, Edmund de Waal, Urs Fischer, Cy Gavin, Nan Goldin, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Damien Hirst, Thomas Houseago, Yayoi Kusama, Deana Lawson, Takashi Murakami, Sterling Ruby, Alexandria Smith, Spencer Sweeney, Kon Trubkovich, Mary Weatherford, Cameron Welch, Anna Weyant, and Zeng Fanzhi.
Gagosian’s booth at Taipei Dangdai 2023. Artwork, left to right: © Mark Grotjahn; © Zeng Fanzhi; © 2023 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All rights reserved. Photo: Ringo Cheung
Making Their Mark
Through March 23, 2024
Shah Garg Foundation, New York
Making Their Mark, curated by Cecilia Alemani, showcases the works of more than seventy women artists from the last eight decades. The exhibition champions the lives and work of women artists, bringing into vibrant relief their intergenerational relationships, formal and material breakthroughs, and historical impact. Through drawings, mixed media, paintings, sculptures, and textile works, these artists aim to rechart art history through their singular, iconic practices. Work by Carol Bove, Jadé Fadojutimi, Sarah Sze, and Mary Weatherford is included.
Carol Bove, The Chevaliers, 2021 © Carol Bove
The Flaying of Marsyas
April 20–November 27, 2022
Museo di Palazzo Grimani, Venice
This exhibition presents new paintings by Mary Weatherford, which are directly inspired by Titian’s late, eponymous masterpiece of circa 1570–76 and reflect her enduring fascination with the painting. Alluding to the Renaissance painter’s subdued palette, while paying tribute to the distinctive light of Venice, Weatherford uses Flashe paint and neon tubing to distill the historical canvas’s affect. The exhibition opens immediately prior to the commencement of the 59th Biennale di Venezia.
Installation view, Mary Weatherford: The Flaying of Marsyas, Museo di Palazzo Grimani, Venice, April 20–November 27, 2022. Artwork © Mary Weatherford. Photo: Matteo de Fina
America. Entre rêves et réalités
La collection du Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Collection
June 9–September 11, 2022
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Canada
Featuring more than a hundred paintings, photographs, sculptures, and video works drawn from the permanent collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, this exhibition, whose title translates to America. Between Dreams and Realities, offers a broad overview of modern and contemporary American art. Organized thematically, it looks carefully and critically at the notion of the American dream and uncovers how artists have variously grappled with questions of identity, the challenges of globalization, the realities of everyday life in America, and the complexities of its technological and political revolutions. Work by Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Sally Mann, Man Ray, Brice Marden, Nam June Paik, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, and Mary Weatherford is included.
Mary Weatherford, Engine, 2014, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC © Mary Weatherford. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio
April 16–September 5, 2021
SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico
Over the past three decades, Mary Weatherford has developed a rich and diverse painting practice, from her early-1990s target paintings based on operatic heroines to her expansive, gestural canvases overlaid with neon glass tubing. This exhibition presents a survey of Weatherford’s career, drawing from several distinct bodies of work made between 1989 and 2017. Showing the artist experimenting with color, scale, and materials, these works together reveal the continuity of Weatherford’s interest in memory and experience, both personal and historical. The exhibition has traveled from the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York.
Mary Weatherford, Georgia, 2010 © Mary Weatherford. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio