Mary Ann Unger

Exhibition Title
Mary Ann Unger
Show Type
Frieze New York, Spotlight Section, Davidson Gallery
New York, NY

Press Release

Mary Ann Unger
Davidson Gallery
Frieze New York
Spotlight Section, Booth S9
May 2–5, 2019

Mary Ann Unger was a New York-based artist who began her career in the late 1960s. She received an MFA from Columbia in 1975, and had solo exhibitions throughout the 80s and 90s, until her untimely death in 1998 at the age of 53. Though her work is in the permanent collections of many major institutions in the US (including recent acquisition by the Whitney and Art Institute of Chicago), she is far from a household name, having been cut down in the prime of her art career. For the Spotlight section at Frieze New York we will exhibit a solo booth of work from perhaps Unger’s most prolific year—1978—in which she made dozens of drawings that bridge the gap between her earlier more geometric stages to sketches of sculptures that were soon-to-be realized in the 1980s and 90s, or never completed in her lifetime. This segue serves as the deepest cross-section in which to view the career of an artist whose relevance still feels contemporary 40 years later.

Unger was most well known for her sculpture, mostly large-scale works which took on more a biomorphic quality. The works often appeared scarred and bandaged, dealing with the joy of new motherhood coupled with the solemnity of the disease which eventually claimed her life, Art critic Roberta Smith wrote Unger’s obituary in the New York Times, proclaiming that “Unger’s works occupied a territory defined by Eva Hesse and Louise Bourgeois, but the pieces combined a sense of mythic power with a sensitivity to shape that was all their own.”

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