Mary Ann Unger: To Shape a Moon from Bone

Date: July 15, 2022 - December 22, 2022


Phone: 4135972429
Website (click here)
Williams College Museum of Art
15 Lawrence Hall Drive
Williamstown, MA 01267

Mary Ann Unger: To Shape a Moon from Bone reconsiders the multidisciplinary practice of one of the twentieth century’s great artists

Exhibition brings the artist’s dynamic sculpture into conversation with the museum’s global collection and work by Unger’s daughter, artist Eve Biddle

The Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) is delighted to announce Mary Ann Unger: To Shape a Moon from Bone, a project consisting of a retrospective survey on view from July 15 through December 22, 2022, as well as a groundbreaking publication. Organized by Horace D. Ballard, former Curator of American Art at WCMA and currently the Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. Associate Curator of American Art at Harvard Art Museums, the exhibition and catalog offer the first curatorial assessment of the entirety of Unger's practice and highlight key works as culminating examples of her material experimentation.

Rising to prominence in the downtown New York art scene in the 1980s and 1990s, Mary Ann Unger (1945–1998) was skilled in graphic composition, watercolor, large-scale conceptual sculpture, and environmentally-responsive, site-specific interventions. An unabashed feminist dedicated to discourse and collective action, and an active member of the Guerrilla Girls, Unger was acknowledged as a pioneer of neo-expressionist sculptural form. Roberta Smith, writing in The New York Times at the time of the artist’s death, asserted 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, achieving a subtlety of expression that belied their monumental scale.” To Shape a Moon from Bone reexamines the formal and cultural intricacies of Unger’s oeuvre, as well as the critical environmental themes suffusing her monumental installations. The exhibition repositions Unger within and against the male dominated New York sculpture scene in the last decades of the twentieth century.

To Shape a Moon from Bone is Unger’s first solo museum presentation in more than twenty years since the McDonough Museum of Art at Youngstown State University (Ohio) presented a fifteen-year retrospective in 2000. The artist’s monumental homage to prehistoric migration, Across the Bering Strait (1992–94), will be on view in concert with previously unseen works on paper and other sculptural works from the Mary Ann Unger Estate, as well as special loans from the Whitney Museum of American Art and Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute, in order to reintroduce Unger’s expansive practice to a new generation. Works by Unger’s daughter Eve Biddle, artist and co-founder of the Wassaic Project, bring two generations of a family of artists—which includes Unger’s husband, noted photographer Geoffrey Biddle—into abundant conversation around memory and material evidence.

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