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Heard Museum opens Maria & Modernism

The Heard Museum: Maria & Modernism now open to the public
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

The original exhibition features more than 80 works spanning seven decades by San Ildefonso ceramist Maria Martinez (1887-1980), one of the 20th century’s most celebrated and recognizable women whose work continues to influence new generations of artists.

Modernists reconsidered existing art forms and their ideas radically changed art, design, and architecture in the first half of the 20th century.

Through experimentation with traditional Pueblo ceramic production and design, Ms. Martinez radically transformed the black-ware vessel of her ancestors. Ms. Martinez was so renowned in her lifetime that she met U.S. presidents, movie stars, scientists and fellow artists including Georgia O’Keeffe, Heard Museum representatives point out.

Countless talented contemporary artists have been inspired, including Rose Simpson and her 1985 Chevrolet El Camino, Maria.

“Her paint is simultaneously reflective and matte, translating dimensions— the landscape that she journeys through is painted in light on the dark gloss of her body,” Ms. Simpson said of her inspiration. “When I put the last touches on the paint job of the ‘85 El Camino, I stepped back and said to her; “Hello Maria. I name you for a legend. And we will journey these lifetimes together.”

David M. Roche, Dickey Family director and CEO of the Heard Museum, explains this is a one-of-a-kind exhibit now open in Phoenix.

“This exhibition is the first to exclusively focus on Maria Martinez’s overlooked contributions to Modernism, the most important artistic movement of the 20th century,” he said. “Visitors will see masterpieces of Martinez’s work that we have gathered from collections around the United States including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.”

The Heard Museum: Maria & Modernism now open to the public

From the time Ms. Martinez began producing her innovative black-on-black ware, Maria’s pottery was sought after by major artists, collectors, and thought leaders.

Her sleek, black, sculptural vessels could fit into any modern 20th-century home, and often did. Generations of the John D. Rockefeller Jr. family, perhaps the 20th century’s most influential collectors of modern art, collected Martinez’s work.

Other 20th-century influencers who collected Maria’s work included the photographer Ansel Adams and the Manhattan Project scientists Drs. Robert Brode and Enrico Fermi. Examples of Ms. Martinez’s work from these collectors will be on view in the Virgina G. Piper Charitable Trust Grand Gallery at the Heard Museum.

The exhibition will be open through July 28.

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