The Sword in the Stone

Exhibition Title
The Sword in the Stone
Show Type
William Hathaway
Mary Ann Unger Estate
New York, NY

Press Release

The Mary Ann Unger Estate and Geoffrey Biddle Studio are pleased to present The Sword in the Stone, at their former home and loft on the Bowery. Curated by William Hathaway of Night Gallery, a childhood friend of the artists’ daughter sculptor Eve Biddle, the exhibition includes selections of Unger’s sculpture and works on paper presented alongside photographs by American photographer Geoffrey Biddle, Unger’s husband.

The exhibition takes place concurrently with the retrospective Mary Ann Unger: To Shape a Moon from Bone at Williams College Museum of Art, which visual critic Cassie Packard, writing recently in Frieze, asserts is “a long-overdue exhibition, sensitively curated by Horace D. Ballard,” and anticipates Biddle’s forthcoming memoir with photographs chronicling his marriage to Unger, Rock in a Landslide (Working Assumptions).

Organized around three generations of women—Anne Biddle, daughter-in-law Mary Ann, and granddaughter Eve—Hathaway, a native of Maine, has chosen work that invokes summers spent with the women and that explores memory, myth, and illness.

Unger’s patinated and smooth armature Maine Wishing Stone (1996) dipped in hydrocal plaster is dreamlike and hopeful, while works on paper influenced by her time spent in Mt. Desert, Maine are intriguingly different from anything else made over the course of her career. Highly skilled in graphic composition, Tangled Forks (1989) recalls for Hathaway, “Mary Ann wrapped in Eve’s body” made during a period in which a return of cancer would eventually take the sculptor’s life.

An aluminum model of Unger’s vertical, hexagonal Beehive Temple (1987), which today is installed in the botanical gardens of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and made during the artist’s apex of public art projects, punctuates the exhibition; while the fantastical Stalagmites (1993) a hydrocal over steel, reaches into space with its pair of striped limbs.

A series of photographs made by Biddle in the 1980s and 90s, “a tall lanky guy always taking pictures,” says Hathaway, range from the figurehead Anne rocking a young Eve in a hammock against a lush, expansive landscape; to a picture, remarkable for its immediacy and directness, in which a young Eve looks into the camera from inside of a minivan while Mary Ann, “daydreaming and being an artist” looks away, and Anne “riding shotgun” benevolently smiles at her son.

The photographs delve into the relationships among the three generations and peers into their shared experience: a young Eve, reading, with Mary Ann snuggled against her beneath a quilt; or Anne, hands on her waist, standing separate from Eve and Mary Ann.

Selected works by Eve Biddle and her husband Joshua Frankel will also be on view.

Note: The show is not affiliated with Night Gallery.

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