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Mary Callery was born June 19, 1903 in New York City and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mary Callery was an American artist known for her Modern and Abstract Expressionist sculpture. She was part of the New York School art movement of the 1940s-1960s. Callery came from an extremely affluent family as was the daughter of Julia Welch and James Dawson Callery, the President of the Diamond National Bank and Chairman of Pittsburgh Railways Company. Callery studied at the Art Student’s League from 1921–25 and moved to Paris in 1930. While in Paris, Callery began collecting the art of her peers including; Picasso, Duchamps and Matisse. Callery returned to New York City at the outbreak of WWII and played an instrumental role in the development and growth of ULAE (Universal Limited Art Editions, Inc.). For many years, ULAE primarily published reproductions. It is thought by many historians that Mary Callery was the first artist to print original work at ULAE.
From 1930 to 1940 Callery worked in France, where she met and became friends with Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger, Alexander Calder and other leading artists of the day and collected their art. During this same period, Callery also developed her own talents as a modern sculptor. When Germany occupied Paris during World War II, Callery returned to the United States with "more Picassos than anyone in America" according to Alfred Barr of the Museum of Modern Art. Architect Philip Johnson, introduced Callery to major players in the world of business and art in New York, including Nelson and Abby Rockefeller. Wallace Harrison, who along with Philip Johnson was responsible for the design of Lincoln Center, commissioned Callery to create a sculpture for the top of the proscenium arch at the Metropolitan Opera House which is perhaps her best known work. The Callery Opera House masterpiece is most affectionately known by The Metropolitan Opera Company "The Car Wreck" and more infrequently as "Spaghetti Spoon in Congress with Plumbers Strap". Callery was represented by the prestigious art dealers M. Knoedler & Co. and the Curt Valentin Gallery, she also exhibited in more than twenty noteworthy solo and group exhibitions. Callery became an acquaintance of Georgia O'Keeffe and in 1945 made a sculpture of O'Keeffe's head.
Callery’s work of woven linear figures of acrobats and dancers, as slim as spaghetti and as flexible as a rubber bands are so eloquently sculpted from bronze and steel forms. Mary Callery’s works are in the public collections of MoMA, Detroit Institute of Arts, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, Hirshorn Museum, Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Opera House.