Bortolami announces the passing of Mary Obering

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Bortolami announces the passing of Mary Obering
Mary Obering. Portrait by Mark Hartman.

NEW YORK, NY.- Bortolami announce the passing of Mary Obering, who died on July 29th in New York.

Throughout her prolific career, Obering brought profound innovation to minimalist painting, marrying her interest in Renaissance Art with abstraction. The artist ushered in unexpected materials, including gold leaf and egg tempera, to balanced compositions inspired by her interest in science and the landscape tradition. Born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1937 to Harvey and Marjorie McLean, Obering studied experimental psychology at Harvard under B.F. Skinner, and received an MFA at the University of Denver, before relocating to New York City in 1971, at the behest of her close friend Carl Andre. Within the years after her move to New York, she would present a solo exhibition at Artists Space (1973), curated by Andre, and her paintings in the second ever Whitney Biennial (1975).

Obering remained in New York throughout her life, eventually splitting her time between SoHo and Puglia, Italy, where she continued to research the arts of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque era. It is through this period that she would develop an iconic and singular style, presented by the most intrepid gallerists in New York, including John Weber, Annina Nosei, and Julian Pretto. Throughout her long career, she kept close associations with the Minimalists of her generation and counted Andre, Marcia Hafif, Robert Ryman, and Donald Judd amongst her friends. She is succeeded by her daughter Amanda Obering.

Bortolami has represented Obering since 2019, presenting two exhibitions by the artist and publishing a catalogue of her work this year. In 2019 Window Series, 1973 was exhibited, recreating Obering’s first New York exhibition at Artists Space which showcased the titular series, composed of overlapping pieces of tacked canvases creating the illusion of receding space. This year Bortolami mounted an exhibition stretching across both floors of the gallery, surveying Obering’s output from 1972 through 2003.

Mary Obering (b. 1937, Shreveport, d. 2022, New York) received a BA in Psychology at Hollins College in 1959. She studied calculus at Radcliffe College (Harvard’s women’s college) followed by post-bachelor work in experimental psychology with B.F. Skinner at Harvard. She received an MFA in painting from the University of Denver in June 1971, and shortly thereafter moved to NYC. Obering’s works have been included in exhibitions at 1975 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Fine Art, Boston; Artists Space, New York; the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut; The Denver Art Museum and Nelson-Atkins Museum among others. Her works are in the permanent collections of major institutions, including The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Detroit Institute of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Perez Museum, and the Wadsworth Atheneum.

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