The world that we live in is a vast and beautiful place, full of forces that work upon us and within us. Nothing is static or stationary, everything is in constant motion – there is no single second in space when time stands still.
– Mary Henry 1913–2009
Mary Dill Henry is one of the Northwest's most proficient and admired painters. Her bold geometric abstractions delight audiences with their formal gymnastics, breathtaking scale and audacious color.
Geometric abstraction can seem mathematical and tedious to the casual observer. As a visual experience, abstract art attempts to make visible the invisible forces and dynamics of energy, emotion and imagination at play.
However, its supplest champions, like Mary Henry, who was a second-generation geometric abstractionist, locate spiritual essences and elicit the highest passion. Her growing legion of collectors and followers find Henry’s geometric abstraction artwork energetic and full of life, and as compelling to many patrons outside the region as the popular representational landscape or recognizable figurative work that has dominated and defined the Northwest fine art tastes for generations.
Mary Henry’s art legacy deserves recognition for her rigorous and dedicated practice. Like an Agnes Martin or Georgia O’Keefe from the Pacific Northwest, Henry was a determined woman living alone in a remote and scenic setting, creating a distinguished body of work quite independent of popular trends.
Her Mondrian-inspired grid works and offbeat neo-Constructivism are a celebration of an art moment whose last high point was nearly half a century past. Henry is unafraid to do work which brings to mind iconic painters like Mondrian and Moholy-Nagy (her teacher), as well as Joseph Albers, Agnes Martin, Frank Stella, and the Op Artists.
The art world is finally primed to “discover” Mary Henry’s work. In the last few years, a major curatorial focus has been on major abstract artists who were female, the so called “matriarchs of modernism” who were relegated to the shadows of their domineering male counterparts. Major exhibitions on American abstraction by women have been curated recently at the National Museum, The Denver Museum and MOMA and at the Hauser + Wirth Gallery in Los Angeles.