Rosemary Mayer (1943-2014) was a prolific artist involved in the New York art scene beginning in the late 1960s. Most well-known for her large-scale sculptures using fabric as the primary material, she also created works on paper, artist books, and outdoor installations, exploring themes of temporality, history, and biography. She was initially involved in conceptual art and writing, collaborating with her sister, poet Bernadette Mayer, and husband, Vito Acconci, on the journal 0 TO 9. A pioneer of the feminist art movement, she was a founding member of A.I.R. Gallery, the first cooperative gallery for women in the U.S. and had one of the earliest shows there. During the 1970s and 1980s, her work was also shown at many New York alternative art spaces, including The Clocktower, Sculpture Center, and Franklin Furnace, and in university galleries throughout the country. Mayer was also a critic and writer, contributing essays to various journals of artists writings, including White Walls and Heresies and produced an issue of the avant-garde magazine Art Rite in 1977. Her translation of the diary of Mannerist artist Jacopo da Pontormo, accompanied by essays and a catalog of her work, was published in 1982.
In 2016, Southfirst Gallery in Brooklyn exhibited a selection of Mayer’s work from the late 1960s and early 1970s. The first major exhibit of her work in over thirty years, it was reviewed in The New York Times, Art in America, The New Yorker, and Artforum. A version of this show was exhibited at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia in 2017. Her work has also been included in several group exhibitions in New York including at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, Murray Guy Gallery, and Bridget Donahue. Recent publications include Temporary Monuments, focused on her ephemeral installations, published by Sobercove Press and the second edition of Excerpts from the 1971 Journal of Rosemary Mayer, also by Soberscove. In 2020, her work was introduced to European audiences through Nick Mauss’s exhibition, “Bizarre Silks, Private Imaginings and Narrative Facts, etc.,” at Kunsthalle Basel and “Rods Bent Into Bows,” at ChertLüdde in Berlin. The show in Berlin was Mayer’s first solo show in Europe; it won the prestigious VBKI Prize for Berlin galleries and included in Frieze magazine’s list of the best shows in Europe. A solo show at Gordon Robichaux in summer 2021, entitled “Pleasures and Possible Celebrations,” focused on her installations with balloons and related work. The Swiss Institute in New York will present the first institutional survey of her work in the fall of 2021.
Mayer’s work in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, Lenbachhaus, Munich, and numerous private collections.