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Emily Mason (1932-2019)
Emily Mason (1932-2019)
Emily Mason (1932-2019)
Emily Mason (1932-2019)
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Fields of Vision: The Private Collection of Artists Wolf Kahn and Emily Mason
Emily Mason (1932-2019)

Aquifer

Details
Emily Mason (1932-2019)
Aquifer
signed and dated 'Emily Mason 2010' (lower center)
oil on canvas
56 x 52 in. (142.2 x 132.1 cm.)
Painted in 2010.

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Lot Essay

Emily Mason’s canvases lie at the junction of Abstract Expressionism and Color Field Painting, employing veils of vivid pigments and spontaneous mark making such that, as she described, “When you look at a painting, you recreate the painting experience itself.” Mason did not plan her paintings out in advance, instead pouring pigments directly onto the surface, before moving and tilting the canvas—observing the overall effect—with her next decision depending on the result of her previous action. Brattleboro Museum & Art Center Chief Curator Mara William describes, “Many of her paintings begin with a pour, a chance action that places one color on a white ground. The shifting directions of the drip lines provide evidence of how the artist manipulates both paint and surface…Passages of paint vary, ranging from opaque pools to gossamer veils. Viewing Mason’s work is not only a visual experience but also a visceral one. Without touching the paintings, we understand and respond to their tactility.” (Emily Mason: To Another Place, Brattleboro, Vermont, 2018, p. 7)

In Aquifer, Mason creates seemingly hundreds of different blues, pinks and purples through her intuitive application of the paint layers. The resulting composition immerses the viewer in its surface, much like, as the title suggests, being submerged in a body of water. Mason once poetically explained, “My work, while never a depiction of nature, is analogous in its process to the workings of nature and, in its result, aims for the beauty of the interior of a great storm or a day lily.” (as quoted in E.W. Almino, "'That Magical Thing': The Poetry of Emily Mason," Emily Mason, Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, 2018, p. 6) Indeed, as demonstrated by the present work, Robert Wolterstorff writes, “She revels in the natural world she encounters, but never illustrates it. Like the words and phrases she collects, she also gathers visual impressions: the particular look of the wind tossing a flowering shrub, the texture of moss, morning light…By giving visual embodiment to change, wear, age, becoming, they capture time itself.” ("Gesture into Color: Early Works on Paper by Emily Mason," Color Gesture: Early Works of Emily Mason, Bennington, Vermont, 2019)

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