“‘When I was a young child, I often accompanied my father from Queens into Manhattan. The trip into the city was visually interesting because of all the shapes in forms of bridges, highways, cemeteries, generating stations, chimneys and tanks—for whatever purpose they served. This is what I saw, simple things with their own magic.” ––Martha Diamond, 2020
Magenta Plains is pleased to present Martha Diamond: 1980–1989, a solo exhibition of historical works by the New York-based artist. On view will be a selection of large-scale oil paintings alongside an installation of small-scale preparatory studies on Masonite.
For five decades Diamond has developed an unmistakable personal language from the forms and sensations of the city. Equal parts New York School Abstraction, New Image Painting and Neo-Expressionism, Diamond is best known for her lush and loose abstract cityscapes. Having lived and worked on the Bowery since 1969, her signature approach is energetic and rigorous, sharply observed and freely lyrical.
Diamond’s wet-on-wet technique projects a footloose elegance concerned more with vision than expressionism, perception rather than emotion. Often referring to the quality of light through mist, reflections on building facades, and shadows of twilight, Diamond obliterates visual detail in favor of suggestion, “bathing her anonymous edifices in the violent tones of New York light, from flaming sunset red to the glowing yellow hues of morning.”
The elusive fluency of Diamond’s brushstrokes allow distinction between paint, surface, performance, image, idea, and expectation—bringing atmospheric sensation into focus. Capturing the essence of delirious New York itself with its soaring skyscrapers, Diamond’s visceral canvases are rooted in the city’s profound legacy of gestural abstraction.
Martha Diamond (b.1944, New York, NY) received a BA from Carleton College in Minnesota and an MA from New York University. She exhibited with Brooke Alexander from 1976 to 1985 and subsequently with the legendary Robert Miller gallery until 1994. In 1988, Diamond mounted her first museum show at Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME, and has since maintained a relationship with Maine, exhibiting there over the past few decades. That same year, Roberta Smith wrote of Diamond's work in The New York Times, “Ms. Diamond’s whole approach to painting is deceptively simple, full of hidden skills and decisions that only gradually reveal themselves, along with a good deal of humor and very little pretension.”
Recent solo exhibitions include Cityscapes at Eva Presenhuber (2018); Recent Paintings at Phil Alexandre Gallery (2016); and Martha Diamond: Paintings at John David Gallery (2014). Her work has been included in recent group exhibitions such as In Her Hands, curated by David Salle at Skarstedt (2020) and Downtown Painting, curated by Alex Katz at Peter Freeman Inc. (2019) as well as historically important exhibitions METAMANHATTAN, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (1984) and New Abstract Objects, Hallwalls Center for Contemporary Arts, Buffalo, NY (1978).
Her work is in the permanent collection of numerous institutions, including Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY; Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami, FL; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, TX; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, MA, and Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany, among others. Diamond lives and works in New York, NY.