Friday, October 30, 2009

Mary Abbott : Biography

Mary Abbott, a descendant of Pres. John Adams and Gen. Robert E. Lee, was born in Boston in 1921, bur grew up in NY and Wash., DC high society. As a young woman, she worked for a while as a photographer’s model, but from a young age she had decided she wanted to be an artist. At age 12 she began to take classes at the Art Students League. In 1942 she married the painter Louis Teague who was in the Air Force. While he served in the military during the war, she studied and painted. As she revealed to Thomas McCormick in a private interview in 2004, “I was reading Proust, Painting ling Utrillo, and absorbing the abstracting of Picasso.” When she rreturned to NY, her friend, sculptor David Hare, introduced her to The Subjects of the Artist– an “anti-school” anyone could join if they left their artistic past behind and just FELT — started by Hare, Rothko, Motherwell and others. Rothko, Motherwell and Barnett Newman became her mentors. She said of them. “They taught us to draw imagination.” Hare also introduced her to peyote, the hallucinogenic experiences of which greatly influenced her use and understanding of color. In the late 1940’s, Abbott began an important affair with William de Kooning, “the love of my life.”

By 1950 Abbott had begun to exhibit at important NY galleries. Many of her early successful abstract pieces resulted from trips she took to Haiti. According to McCormick “These canvases are densely packed with undulating rhythmic forms that spoke to the artist of the people and topography of that exotic island.”

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