Michael Mazur

Michael Mazur was an American artist whose work is collected in The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MOMA, The Whitney Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum.

Recent Gifts on display at PAAM

Twelve works on paper by Michael Mazur were recently presented by Gail Mazur to the Provincetown Art Museum. Consisting of monotypes and charcoal drawings made in 1989, this cycle of images depict seagulls fighting over and devouring a dead skate, a scene Mazur witnessed on the beach at Provincetown. The pictures most have which have never before been exhibited, are currently on display as part of the museum’s “Recent Gifts” show.

Mazur and Monet at Currier Museum

Michael Mazur’s painting “Pond Edge” (1996) is currently on view at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH, in conjunction with its exhibit “Monet: Pathways to Impressionism.” Mazur’s picture, which is in the museum’s permanent collection, is included in a room of work relating to Monet. “In the same vein as Monet, and the French Impressionists,” reads the label description of the painting, “Mazur sought to paint his impression of nature, rather than a realistic depiction of the scene. Pond Edge alludes to forms in nature while remaining dreamily abstract.”

Documentaries on Mazur’s Monotype Process

The documentaries, Making Monotypes: the Art of Michael Mazur (15 min) and Wakeby Day, Wakeby Night: a Monotype Mural By Michael Mazur (29 min), are now available for online viewing.

Each video explores the creative practice and theories of this important American artist. In Making Monotypes, Mazur demonstates the techniques involved in monotype, the printmaking medium he revolutionized between the 1980s and 2000s. As Mazur creates a pair of monotype images of an amiryllis the camera captures each step of the process, accompanied by an insightful and informative narration by the artist.

The subject of “Wakeby Day, Wakeby Night,” is one of the most ambitious monotype projects in printmaking history, Mazur’s monumental installation commissioned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Again, the viewer is given an intimate and detailed look at the materials and methods of this distinctive process, from initial sketches through final printing. Interviews and narration by the artist explain and illuminate the process.

Taken together, these two short films provide an understanding of the art of monotype as well as the artistic philosophy of this brilliand and innovative  prinmaker and painter.

Remembering Michael Mazur, Mead Art Museum

Wall text inside exhibition with paintings on either side, silhouettes of seated figures at bottom
During Reunion weekend, alumni attended a gallery talk honoring the memory of artist Michael Mazur, who died in 2009.

Michael Mazur might be the best-known visual artist to have graduated from Amherst. A painter and printmaker, he earned acclaim for reviving the use of monotype prints. Today, his works are in permanent collections around the world, including the British Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

But before that, Mazur was an undergraduate attempting to figure out his life and career. As Senior Resident Artist Betsey Garand explained at a gallery talk during Reunion last week, Mazur’s legacy began with his ambitious senior thesis project, An Image of Salomé.

Influenced by a gap year spent studying art and Italian in Florence, Italy, Mazur’s thesis included 16 hand-carved woodcuts and wood engravings illustrating texts from the Bible, Oscar Wilde, Gustav Flaubert and Stéphane Mallarmé. He made 34 prints of each illustration, and had them bound, with accompanying text, into large, hardcover books. “He printed it all himself,” Garand says, “and it was really quite an accomplishment.”

Senior Resident Artist Betsey Garand holds a copy of "The Dance of Salomé," a woodcut included in Mazur's senior thesis project "An Image of Salomé," which is displayed in the case.
Garand holding a copy of “The Dance of Salomé,” a woodcut included in Mazur’s senior thesis project on display in the glass case below.

That thesis, never before displayed in a museum exhibition, is now on view at the Mead, alongside Mazur’s vibrant pastels, large-scale gestural paintings and well-known prints, including Dante’s Inferno. The exhibition honors the memory of the artist, who died in 2009, during what would have been his 60-year Amherst reunion. “You can see in all of his work that he really loved getting into the material,” Garand says. “Whatever material and idea he worked with, he fully invested himself in it.”

Garand worked with Mazur in 2004, when he visited Amherst as the Robert Frost Library Fellow and spent a week working with students in the printmaking studio in Fayerweather Hall. “His visit had a lasting effect on all who were involved, myself included,” she says. At the time, Garand was well-acquainted with Mazur’s work, having studied it herself as a student at the University of New Hampshire. “He’s an incredible artist who certainly influenced my work,” she says. “I show his work every semester to my students.”

Senior Resident Artist Betsey Garand gestures towards a painting while giving a talk about the life and work of the late artist.
Garand gesturing towards Mazur’s painting “Drift IV” (2003).

One such student is David Le ’17E. Upon seeing Mazur’s works during a class visit to the Mead, Le says, “I was astonished by the techniques used in making them, and wanted to learn about the process involved in creating these images.” While taking Garand’s “Printmaking I” and “Working in Series” courses, Le says that with Mazur’s works in mind, he enjoyed exploring techniques for creating intaglio and monotype prints.

As part of his own senior project, Le created a series of monotypes inspired by a childhood memory of accidentally setting curtains on fire in his living room. “Betsey mentioned that they were similar to Mazur’s diptych titled Window Sequence (1974), which surprised me,” he says. “I was unaware of how much Mazur’s works had inspired my own artistic practices.”

The exhibition, Perspectives on Michael Mazur, remains on view at the Mead Art Museum through Dec. 16, 2017. It includes works from the Mead collection, a copy of Mazur’s senior thesis project from Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections and generous loans from Mazur’s classmates H. Axel Schupf ’57 and Bob Keiter ’57. It is organized by Vanja Malloy, curator of American art, with support from Garand and Gail Mazur, poet and wife of the late artist.

photos See more photos of the exhibition in the Flickr photo gallery.

Perspectives on Michael Mazur at the Mead Art Museum

May 25 – December 16, 2017

In celebration of one of the most distinguished artists to have graduated from Amherst College, the Mead Art Museum has organized the exhibition Perspectives on Michael Mazur to honor his memory in what would have been his 60th reunion year. Michael Mazur (1935-2009), Class of 1957, was a talented painter and printmaker, as well as a dedicated teacher and arts advocate who held positions at esteemed institutions including the Rhode Island School of Design, Brandeis University, and Harvard University.

Throughout his 50-year career as an artist, he demonstrated an astounding stylistic range. Mazur worked in many media, especially printmaking, in which he mastered techniques including aquatint, lithography, and monotype. His artworks have been acquired by numerous museums including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Harvard Art Museums, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery.

The Mead Art Museum holds an important collection of Mazur’s work, and this exhibition combines the Mead’s collection with generous alumni loans to illustrate the sweeping range of Mazur’s oeuvre. The show will include many works that have never been shown in public before, such as his senior thesis An Image of Salome, in addition to his vibrant pastels, large-scale gestural paintings, and well-known prints, such as Dante’s Inferno.

Opening Reception

Thursday, May 25 at 5 p.m.
Mead Art Museum
Free & Open to the Public

Perspectives on Michael Mazur: Gallery Talk with Betsey Garand, Senior Resident Artist at Amherst College and Gail Mazur, Poet and wife of the late Michael Mazur
Friday, May 26 at 2:30pm
Mead Art Museum
Free & Open to the Public

For more information on visiting the Mead:

Michael Mazur’s Dante’s Inferno

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Michael Mazur: The Inferno of Dante
April 17 – July 11, 2015

Opening Reception and Gallery Talk
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Gallery Talk: 5:30pm
Opening Reception: 6:00-8:00pm

Keith Sharp: Solo Exhibition Awarded from the 89th Annual International Competition
Ken Wood: Solo Exhibition Awarded from the 89th Annual International Competition
April 17 – July 11, 2015

Opening Reception and Gallery Talk
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Gallery Talk: 5:30pm
Opening Reception: 6:00-8:00pm

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True Monotypes Exhibition at IPCNY

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March 26, 2015 – May 30th, 2015
508 West 26th St
Room 5a
New York, NY 10001

Artists in the exhibition are Chuck Arnoldi, Romare Bearden, Cecily Brown, Gregory Crane, Paul DeRuvo, Valentina DuBasky, Joellyn Duesberry, Carroll Dunham, Mary Frank, Lawrence Gipe, Sue Heatley, Jasper Johns, Jane Kent, Joyce Kozloff, Maya Lin, Judith Linhares, Eddie Martinez, Michael Mazur, Kate McCrickard, James Nares, Anne Neely, John Newman, Elizabeth Peyton, Matt Phillips, Susan Rothenberg, Sara Sanders, Dana Schutz, Richard Segalman, Stuart Shils, Steven Sorman, David Storey, Philip Taaffe, Donald Traver, Mary Jo Vath, Chuck Webster, William Weege, Christopher Wool, and Lisa Yuskavage.

Video of Michael Hersch’s string quartet, “Images From a Closed Ward”

The seventh movement of Michael Hersch’s string quartet, “Images From a Closed Ward,” as played by the Kreutzer Quartet at St. Gabriel’s Church in London during the fall of 2014. This short film by Richard Anderson is made up of photographs of the ensemble interleaved with the haunting etchings of American artist Michael Mazur (1935-2009), which inspired the music.

Can I Be a Witness, Essay by John Yau

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John Yau offers a tribute to the late painter Michael Mazur, whose early paintings of apes in a zoo were recently exhibited in New York: “This is the kind of challenge that most artists, no matter what the medium, avoid: to confront and stroke difficult subject matter, to be open and sympathetic without trivializing or becoming sentimental.”

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Michael Mazur: Stoneham Zoo (1977-1979) October 16 – November 15, 2014

Ryan Lee Gallery
515 WEST 26TH STREET, NY 10001
TELEPHONE 212-397-0742

A selection of Installation shots of the current exhibition at Ryan Lee Gallery.
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The Human Image, Nagoya Japan

The Human Image is survey of work by European and American figural artists from 1945 to 2010, including a selection of Michael Mazur’s work.  The exhibition is located in Nagoya, Japan at the Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Art . The show is up from 20 September–30 November 2014.

Michael Mazur: Stoneham Zoo (1977-1979) October 16 – November 15, 2014

Ryan Lee Gallery
515 WEST 26TH STREET, NY 10001
TELEPHONE 212-397-0742

RYAN LEE is pleased to announce Michael Mazur: Stoneham Zoo (1977-1979), a selection of paintings and

monumental pastel portraits of caged primates. This is the first time these works have been exhibited in

New York since the artist’s groundbreaking show at Robert Miller Gallery more than 30 years ago.

In the late 1970s, during a strong realist movement in the art world, Mazur returned to the subject of

captivity, a theme which recurred in several phases of his career, beginning with his renowned hospital

series, Closed Ward (1962-63), which portrays the most afflicted residents in a psychiatric ward. Throughout

his life, Mazur addressed the individual human condition as well as society’s role in exploitative policies

and systems of confinement. The work demands of himself and viewers recognition of the abused and

forgotten. The American Way Room (1968), a wall and floor installation in an empty storefront where

viewers walked over images of victims of the Vietnam war, brough his anti-war position to public spaces.

His monotype collaboration, with poet laureate Robert Pinsky, of Dante’s Inferno confronts states of

relentless anguish.

In a 1993 interview with the Archives of American Art, Mazur said “I decided to do some work on the

monkey cages at Stoneham Zoo, which were very depressed and reminded me of the mental hospital. It

was a strange return to the hospital work via the world of animals.” His mastery of pastel is essential to

the Stoneham Zoo pieces. The medium provided him with a way to combine elements of drawing and

painting. Pastel’s directness of touch gives a vsiceral feeling of movement. The primates are on edge, yet in

stasis. Tangible despair and the inhumane nature of zoos are conveyed in these portraits of the primates in

their looming, barren cages. Light and shadow capture the dualities of passitivity and tension within the

images. A psychological intensity is heightened by Mazur’s extreme color choices.

Michael Mazur (1935-2009) is internationally recognized for his paintings, drawings, and prints. He

experimented with and moved fluidly between ideas and media. He was invited to represent the US in the

1970 Venice Biennale, but declined to participate in protest of the Vietnam War. He exhibited widely in 160

solo and group shows, and in 2000, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston held a major traveling retrospective.

His work is in several prominent collections, including the British Museum, UK; Castelvecchio Verona,

IT; Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; de Cordova Museum, MA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA;

McNay Art Museum, TX; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Philadelphia

Museum of Art, PA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Whitney Museum of

American Art, NY; Yale University Art Gallery, CT; and Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, NJ.

Concurrently on view is Joan Logue: Video Portraits of Jasper Johns (1979) and Noam Chomsky (2011).

Forthcoming exhibitions at the gallery include new work by Seong Chun and Kevin Cooley, both of which will be on view November 20th through January 10th.

Please contact Courtney Willis Blair at 212-397-0742 or courtney@ryanleegallery.com for further press inquiries.


Ryan Lee Gallery
515 WEST 26TH STREET, NY 10001
TELEPHONE 212-397-0742

Palate to Plate

Prints & Recipes From Members of The Boston Printmakers

Newport Art Museum, 76 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840
August 30, 2014 – January 4, 2015

Opening Reception: Friday, September 26, 2014, 5:00 – 7:00pm


The Boston Printmakers is pleased to announce the release of Palate to Plate: Prints and Recipes from Members of the Boston Printmakers. This full-color, 216-page book is also the catalogue for the 2014 Boston Printmakers Members’ Exhibition at the Newport Art Museum (Fall 2014 – early January 2015). This beautiful book contains prints and favorite recipes by 99 members of the Boston Printmakers. The book is available throughwww.blurb.com. The ordering process is simple and easy. Delivery time is 2-4 weeks and the price for the book is $40.09. There are discounts available for purchasing multiple copies.

Images from a Closed Ward

The Artist Profiles Project

Images From a Closed Ward: Michael Hersch on Michael Mazur

Blair String Quartet
March 7th, 2012
Carnegie Hall’s Weill’s Recital Hall, 8pm

“Images from a Closed Ward” is a 13-movement, 45-minute work that was inspired by etchings from the late visual artist Michael Mazur of mental institutions in the 1960s. The work incorporates expressive markings ranging from “longing, quiet, extreme grief” to “raging violently throughout.” While Hersch has written for a broad range of instrumentation, “Images from a Closed Ward” is his first string quartet in 20 years. “The catalyst for ‘Images from a Closed Ward’ came from two groups of etchings I encountered by Michael Mazur, who was also a friend,” explains Hersch. “The images are devastating ones, and they had a profound impact on me. The fact that visual art became something of an ignition point for my work was a very new experience.” “This piece pushes the boundaries of a traditional quartet’s soundscapes,” said Wang. “The voice that you hear in this music is highly personal and original. We are extremely proud to work with Michael and to premiere this deeply moving quartet.”

For more information visit www.michaelhersch.com.