September 1, 2009
Contact: Karen Cardinal
Accounting, Web and Marketing Manager, Mead Art Museum
AMHERST, Mass.—From Friday, Sept. 4, through Sunday, Sept. 6, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will present a special display of art by Michael Mazur, a member of the school’s Class of 1957, in the museum’s Study Room. The Mead organized the special tribute in memory of the admired painter and printmaker, who is considered by many to be one of the most distinguished artists to graduate from Amherst. He passed away Aug. 18 at age 73.
A prolific artist known for his stylistic dexterity and mastery of multiple media, Mazur demonstrated interest in art at an early age. He became an active member of the art club at New York’s Horace Mann School in the early 1950s. While a fine arts major at Amherst, Mazur took literature courses with Alfred Kazin and studied printmaking with Smith College’s Leonard Baskin, who nurtured his student’s passion for the visual as well as the literary arts. Literature remained an important touchstone for Mazur throughout his education and career. He attended graduate school in Fine Arts at Yale, where his engagement with graphic arts deepened.
Mazur devoted his 50-year career as an artist to a dynamic exploration of abstraction and figuration, an investigation he most often conducted by depicting nature. He was particularly fond of and adept at rendering trees, forms that he saw as analogous to human bodies. Natural imagery facilitated his lush, fluid painting technique, which betrays the influence of Abstract Expressionism. The expressive illustrations Mazur created for poet laureate Robert Pinsky’s translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy Inferno (1993) rank among his best-known works.
Mazur was also a dedicated teacher and arts advocate, having held instructional posts at the Rhode Island School of Design, Brandeis University and Harvard University. He was active on the boards of Boston’s Artist Foundation, the Council for the Arts and Humanities and as an Overseer of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He returned to Amherst in 2004 as Robert Frost Fellow to lecture, conduct critiques with students and teach printmaking with art professor Betsey Garand.
The Mead is fortunate to hold more than 100 paintings and works on paper by Mazur, making the museum one of the largest repositories of his work. The collection is especially rich in the artist’s prints, which testify to his exceptional command of wide-ranging techniques, including aquatint, lithography and monotype. Paintings include Brown Branching and Autumn, both of which beautifully exemplify Mazur’s elegant gestural style. The most recent addition to the museum’s collection of works by Mazur is self-portrait, an impressive likeness of the artist in mixed media. In 1997, the museum organized the traveling retrospective exhibition, Branching: The Art of Michael Mazur. A comprehensive list of the Mead’s holdings of Mazur’s work, additional information about his career, and links to the artist’s obituaries, are available on the museum’s Web site.
The Mead Art Museum houses the art collection of Amherst College, totaling more than 16,000 works. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. During the academic term, the museum is open Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to midnight, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, please visit the museum’s Web site, www.amherst.edu/museums/mead, or call 413/542-2335.
September 1, 2009