By Iris McLister
Artist Emily Mason was born in New York City in the early 1930s, which means that when she was coming into her own as a mid-century abstract painter, the art scene was largely dominated by dudes. Today, the huge canvases of some of Mason's male colleagues can seem almost dick-measurey: Barnett Newman's shaft-like zips, Clyfford Still's brutally toned, jagged stalactites, Robert Motherwell's squickily phallic forms. (Seriously, Google his "elegy paintings.") Whether she set out intentionally or not to do so, Mason's dreamily hued, lushly abstract paintings…

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Western Art and Architecture, 17 Mar 2018
By Rosemary Carstens
There are no boundaries in the world of color. Travelers who wander there find it filled with infinite possibility, a universe limited only by their willingness to experiment, explore and reach into the unknown. Painter Emily Mason has followed her intuition into these lands for more than six decades, traveling through the looking glass to produce an original body of work that mesmerizes and excites its viewers as few American abstractionists have done before. Robert Motherwell is credited with having called abstract expressionism “the greatest painting adventure of our…

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ART & ANTIQUES, 30 Jan 2018
By John Dorfman
For an artist who emerged from the Sturm-und-Drang­ driven Abstract Expressionist movement of 1950s New York, Emily Mason's work is remarkably serene. This quality is not only apparent in the way vibrant swaths of oil paint harmonize with each other on the canvas; it also comes through in the way her career has quietly percolated along through the decades since, without drama or self-promotion, with no clearly delineated sty­ listic phases or periods. Mason, now 86, is still making new work the way she always has-by intuition, without any need for theo­ ries, without measuring…

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ARTNET, 7 Feb 2017
By David Ebony
Here's what to see before spring.1. “We need to talk… Artists and the public respond to the present conditions in America,” at Petzel Gallery, through February 11. This winter ushered in a new political climate of distressing ironies, in which, for instance, modestly compensated journalists, writers, editors, artists, filmmakers, performers, and other cultural workers may be regarded as “the elite,” while billionaire oligarchs appear to have successfully positioned themselves as “just plain folks,” attuned to the needs of the middle class and the poor. Rather than merely an initiative of…

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By Peter Malone
Emily Mason, a painter whose work represents both a unique marriage of understatement and gestural expression and a union of vibrant color and minimalist reserve, receives an examined look at her recent work at Ameringer|McEnery|Yohe Gallery. Measured by Mason’s simultaneous participation in the “Inventing Downtown” show at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery—a show about artist-run galleries in the early 1950s—the artist’s career has been built on decades of developing a painterly language loose enough to allow multiple voicing, yet purposeful enough to assert a lone sensibility. Walking through…

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The Brooklyn Rail: ArtSeen, 15 Jun 2015
By Jessica Holmes
"If you ponder a rose for too long you won’t budge in a storm.” The work of octogenarian artist Emily Mason shares roots with those words by poet Mahmoud Darwish, on the importance of adhering to one’s intuition. For Mason, who has been making abstract work for over five decades, intuition has always been the catalyst. Though primarily known as a painter, she has also been making prints since the late 1980s, and in a small but lush show of these lesser-known works, currently on view at Russell Janis in Williamsburg, her instinctual acuity is on full display. Mason was vexed by those earliest…

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HYLAND, 1 May 2013
By Dick Kagan
“Emily is about color.” The voice came over my left shoulder. It was attached to a tall woman who had been viewing me viewing a gorgeous abstract painting by Emily Mason. I had come to David Findlay Jr. Gallery on Fifth Avenue that blustery New York afternoon not realizing that there was to be a reception for the artist which would attract a mighty throng.“Have you met Emily?,” my tall acquaintance asked. Dismayed by my negative response, she immediately led me into the midst of a gabby thicket and introduced me to a slender spite of a woman with mischievous pale-blue eyes. In a sea of dark…

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The Brooklyn Rail, 5 Apr 2011
By Phong Bui
Although one can sense that Emily Mason’s paintings owe much to both Color Field painting and Lyrical Abstraction, it is impossible to readily ascribe any elements of her work to either school. There is something undecipherable and illegible about her process and something remarkably self-contained about her spirit.This is not to say Mason has ignored the struggle among artists of her mother’s (Alice Trumbull Mason’s) generation. That era’s dominant question – how to marry abstract form with meaningful content? – gave rise to its main schism: “objectivity” versus “subjectivity” (the latter of…

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ART IN AMERICA, 1 Oct 2010
By Diane Armitage
Although veteran American abstractionist Emily Mason lives and works in New York and Vermont, her palette does not reflect the muted tones of either the city or the New England countryside. Indeed, entering her recent exhibition was like diving into the waters of a tropical lagoon. Her fugitive greens and incandescent red, oranges, yellows and purples seem burnished by a brilliant Mesoamerican sun. But the exuberant use of lavish color belies Mason’s deliberate engagement with a legacy that stretches back through Frankenthaler, O’Keeffe and Rothko all the way to Matisse.In such paintings as…

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The Brooklyn Rail, 1 Apr 2005
By Roger Kamholz
The boldly colorful paintings that make up Emily Mason’s show of recent work reside in a fickle and uncanny space – one with parameters as drastically thin yet overwhelmingly vast as all the myriad tones and nuances existing between like colors. Nebulous expanses of pure color blend and collide and argue with one another, then suddenly crystallize at some fugitive moment of clarity as if rendered from supersaturated anxiety. With decided idiosyncrasy, Mason doggedly investigates the possibilities of what Kandinsky called the inexhaustible material of color and form. “Fences Fled Away” (2004)…

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Art in America, 1 Jun 2003
By Robert Berlind
Those suffering from chromophobia should steer clear of Emily Mason’s luminous abstractions in oil. Partial to extravagant, close harmonies, she abuts intense magentas and blood oranges, pale violets and deep yellows, often adding a light green or cerulean blue exactly calibrated to produce an optical vibration. While some of her recent paintings are of an allover, full-tilt intensity, in many cases a counterforce, say, a thinned yellow washed over an area of dark underpainting, undercuts the sweetness with a dash of vinegar. Her variegated surfaces may be opaque or layered as transparent…

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Review, 15 Feb 1999
By Bill J. Bowyer
Emily Mason, child of one of the mandarins of American abstract artist has been painting forever – was painting when I first met her on her way to Venice with a Fulbright (where she was to meet and later marry Wolf Kahn) longer ago than one likes to imagine. And for much of that period she has painted her own way, making one beautifully wrought object after another. She has mingled the heritage of the Founding Fathers of Abstract Expressionism with the concerns of the Color Field painters while pursuing her own special way. Her paintings are recognizable from a distance; she has a signature…

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