Extended through February 27, 2021
Friday, October 9, 2020, 5pm EDT
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.
There’s always sound that enters when I’m thinking about a painting. To me they have sound.
Gagosian is pleased to present Train Yards, an exhibition of paintings by Mary Weatherford. This is her first solo exhibition with the gallery in London.
Weatherford roots abstract painting in subjective experience, evoking urban and rural environments while experimenting with internal painterly dynamics around light, color, and gesture, as well as the relationship between a painted surface and various three-dimensional addenda. Preparing each canvas with a mixture of gesso and marble dust, she conjures a wide range of chromatic and textural effects. In her best-known works, sponged grounds of vinyl-based emulsion on heavy linen panels are surmounted by one or more carefully shaped and placed neon-filled glass tubes.
Weatherford began using neon in 2012, inspired by the illuminated signs that lined the streets of Bakersfield, California, where she was then working as a visiting artist and educator. Casting an intense industrial light onto the modulated fields of color beneath them, the tubes (which sometimes extend beyond the edges of the painting) read as hand-drawn lines, their trailing power cords adding a further graphic and dimensional aspect.
Making frequent reference to specific locations and climates, Weatherford’s paintings of the 1990s and early 2000s incorporate assemblage elements such as seashells, sponges, and starfish. The vines series (2004–08) is inspired by intertwined networks of ivy, and the caves series (2006–14) is based on her observations of natural light at a Pismo Beach sea cave. Since the start of her career, she has sourced inspiration from the use of commonplace and organic materials identified with Arte Povera, and from American abstract painters of the 1950s and 1960s such as Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, and Kenneth Noland, building upon and challenging the high modernist flatness that they extolled by imbuing her own paintings with the illusion of spatial depth and a romantic spirit of existential inquiry.
Following series inspired by Manhattan, Los Angeles, New York Harbor, and the industrial port of Red Hook in Brooklyn, the Train Yard series (2016–20) featured in this exhibition also pursues Weatherford’s foundational interest in the poetics of place—especially sites of mass transportation, and locations where the conditions of urban life reveal themselves with especial intensity. She has described these large-scale canvases—abstracted interpretations of the titular site after dark, in which irregular gaps in the works’ deep purple and black grounds evoke flashes and flickers of white light—as visual embodiments of environmental noise: “the clanging of bells and whistles and the sound of trains.” Also painted in vinyl emulsion on linen, the Train Yard paintings incorporate white neon light tubes that evoke the singular—and distinctly American—history and aura of their subject.
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.
I’ve Seen Gray Whales Go By
September 13–October 15, 2018
555 West 24th Street, New York