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.

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

Ryan Lee Gallery
515 WEST 26TH STREET, NY 10001
TELEPHONE 212-397-0742
TUESDAY-SATURDAY, 10AM – 6PM

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
TUESDAY-SATURDAY, 10AM – 6PM