Marilyn Lerner Shifts Gears, Again

Marilyn Lerner, “The Island of Durian Eaters” (2021), oil on wood panel, 24 × 18 inches (all images courtesy the artist and Kate Werble, New York. Photography by Elisabeth Bernstein)

I first reviewed Marilyn Lerner’s art in 1989 and have been following her career ever since. Over the past three decades, she has expanded her geometric vocabulary, while staying true to it. That vocabulary, which draws inspiration from Hilma af Klint (whose work was first shown in New York at PS1 in 1989), game boards, tantric art, and Indonesian music, as well as the saturated colors found in traditional Indonesian dance costumes, has slowly but continuously changed.  

In her current exhibition of eight paintings, Marilyn Lerner: Walking Backward Running Forward – Again, at Kate Werble Gallery (March 11–May 13, 2021), the most recent incremental changes will be apparent to those who know Lerner’s work. (According to the gallery press release, while all the paintings are dated 2021, they were started three years ago.)

The biggest single change that has taken place in Lerner’s work since I began following it is that she has moved from a graphic to an optical geometry, which has little to do with the tradition that includes Josef Albers, Julian Stanczak, and Richard Anuskiewicz. Rather, she has opened up a potentiality that is all her own. 

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