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Mary Abbott

American, 1921-2019


Curating Works


Mary Abbott, a descendant of President John Adams, was born in Boston in 1921 but grew up in New York and Washington, DC. Abbott knew she wanted to be an artist at a young age and first took a job as a photographer’s model. By the age of 12, she began to study at the Art Students League. Later she joined The Subjects of the Artist group in New York, led by Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell, which was an “anti-school” teaching artists to leave their training behind and experience their work. Rothko, Motherwell, and Barnett Newman became her mentors. In the late 1940’s, Abbott began an important affair with Willem de Kooning, which had a great influence on her artistic career. By 1950, Abbott had begun to exhibit at important galleries in New York, as one of the few female abstract expressionist painters. Her artwork can be found in MoMA, Denver Art Museum, Southampton College, Smithsonian, and in many private collections around the world.