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The Orange County Museum of Art presents the first retrospective of work by influential New York-based painter Mary Heilmann. A pioneer of infusing abstract painting with influences from popular culture and craft traditions, Mary Heilmann (b. 1940) is one of the most important yet least recognized artists in the United States today. One of the very few female abstract painters of her generation, she has nevertheless maintained a steadfast commitment to producing eccentric, engaging, visceral paintings over a 30-year period. The retrospective highlights her development of a deceptively simple, even offhand approach to painting-at once asserting ease, complexity, and boundless potentiality-that now permeates contemporary abstraction.


To Be Someone featured 75 works from 1972 to the present, along with key earlier works. The exhibition also examined Heilmann's interest in ceramics, decorative arts, film, and music.


Mary Heilmann: To Be Someone Exhibition Tour Schedule:


Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston 
November 3, 2007 - January 6, 2008

Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio
May 10 - August 24, 2008

New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York 
October 22, 2008 - January 4, 2009


Something About Mary


Heilmann’s unwavering dedication to painting, her engaging consistency, and her strong presence as a woman in the arts have been highly influential to several generations of artists. Her development of a deceptively simple, even offhand approach to painting—at once asserting ease, complexity, and boundless potentiality—now permeates contemporary abstraction. Through direct contact with younger artists during her activity as a visiting professor over the years, she has played a vital role in the revival of painting, especially on the West Coast, where former Heilmann students such as Ingrid Calame, Laura Owens, and Monique Prieto have reinvigorated painting for a new generation. These artists, along with other artistic descendants and contemporaries on both coasts, show new work at the museum during Heilmann’s retrospective—a fitting tribute to her artistic influence. In addition to Calame, Owens, and Prieto, participating artists include Don Christensen, Kim Fisher, Allison Miller, Taro Suzuki, Mary Weatherford, and Stanley Whitney.




Mary Heilmann: To Be Someone was organized by the Orange County Museum of Art and curated by Elizabeth Armstrong, deputy director for programs and chief curator. A major catalogue with texts by Elizabeth Armstrong, Johanna Burton, and Dave Hickey accompanies the exhibition. 




Mary Heilmann: To Be Someone received major support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. and Altria Group, Inc.

Significant funding was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Official Media sponsor of the Orange County Museum of Art is The Orange County Register. Additional media sponsorship is provided by AT&T Yellow Pages.