oil on canvas
52 in. x 74 in. (132.08 cm x 187.96 cm)
Henry Melville Fuller Fund,
Painter and printmaker Michael Mazur was born in New York City in 1935. Following study with Leonard Baskin (q.v.) while a student at Amherst College, Mazur earned the degrees of BFA and MFA at Yale University. There his teachers included Gabor Peterdi (1915-2001), Bernard Chaet (b. 1924), and Rico Lebrun (1900-1964). After his graduation, Mazur taught for a number of years at the Rhode Island School of Design and Brandeis College. He has also served as visiting artist at both Yale and Harvard. Among the significant awards he has won over the course of his career are a Guggenheim Fellowship and honorary degrees at the Art Institute of Boston and Lesley College.
Known primarily as a printmaker during his early career, Mazur is highly regarded for his contributions to the revival and further development of the monotype process. Among his achievements in this field are his series of monotype murals, Wakeby Day/Wakeby Night, commissioned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983. Active as a painter since the 1970s, Mazur gained recognition in this medium for his images of Ossabaw Island, commissioned by the United States Department of the Interior for the bicentennial celebrations of 1975-76. Today, painting is Mazur's primary focus. Although his outlook remains essentially figurative, his style has shifted toward a more abstract mode, enhancing the dreamlike and subjective feeling of his images.
Pond Edge is a fine example of Mazur's recent painting technique. Composed of many blue and green brushstrokes balanced by warmer passages of ivory and brown, the painting gives the impression of a forest canopy reflected in a tranquil, leaf-studded pool. In allowing his colors to run and drip, Mazur reminds the viewer that the image is ultimately an arbitrary creation composed of paint on a flat surface.
Mazur refers to Pond Edge and similar compositions as "mind landscapes," imaginary images of the natural world that are intended to evoke a contemplative or meditative state. Although some critics have likened Mazur's recent work to the well-known water lily paintings of Claude Monet (1840-1926), a comparison that the artist himself does not rule out, the major influence on Pond Edge is classical Chinese painting. Mazur first began studying Far Eastern art during the 1980s, and in 1987 he traveled to China itself. Seeking a less strenuous, calmer mode and inspired by the Chinese master Chao Meng Fu (1280-1368), Mazur during the mid-1990s exchanged the harder, linear forms of his previous style for a new aesthetic based on softer colors and full, rounded brushstrokes. The resulting works take on a soothing quality and a sense of gentle motion that invite visual repose.
Pond Edge was purchased by the Currier Museum of Art in 2003. The first painting by Mazur to enter the collection, it forms a significant addition to the Museum's holdings of contemporary art. Besides Pond Edge, the Currier contains an untitled drawing by Mazur and a representative grouping of the artist's prints, including Closed Ward #6 (A Still and Rocking Figure - Below the Restless) (1962), Closed Ward #12 (q.v.), Easel-Chair (1972), and Amaryllis/Calla III (1982).
Susan Danly and Rachel Rosenfield Lafo. Branching: The Art of Michael Mazur. Ex. cat. Mead Art Museum, Amherst, MA; De Cordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA, 1997.
Trudy V. Hansen. The Prints of Michael Mazur with a Catalogue Raisonné 1956-1999. New York: Hudson Hills Press in association with Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick, NJ, 2000.
2003 Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH, On consignment. April 29 - May 7.
2017 Currier Museum of Art. "Monet: Pathways to Impressionism" July 1- Nov. 13.
Mary Ryan Gallery, New York, NY
Purchased by Currier Museum of Art, 2003