Michael Mazur Greenhouse Series

Michael Mazur
Greenhouse Series

Michael Mazur (1935 New York City, New York–2009 Cambridge, Massachusetts), Untitled (Greenhouse Exterior), 1970s, Oil on canvas, Gift of the Estate of Michael Mazur 2021.5.1

Michael Mazur (1935 New York City, New York–2009 Cambridge, Massachusetts), Untitled (Greenhouse), 1970s, Charcoal on paper, Gift of the Estate of Michael Mazur 2021.5.15

The Davis recently received a gift of fifteen works by Michael Mazur, including paintings, drawings and prints from his 1970s series depicting the Wellesley College greenhouse. Mazur studied at Amherst College, where he worked with Leonard Baskin on his senior thesis, and then attended graduate school at Yale University, where he received a Masters in Fine Arts. He continued in academia, teaching studio art at the Rhode Island School of Design and Brandeis University, before devoting himself full time to his artistic career at the age of forty. Mazur, a prominent Boston area artist, was prolific across media—working in paintings, drawings and prints—though he is best known for his prints, and is credited with the revival of the monotype in the 20th century. Mazur looked to Impressionism, abstract expressionism, Chinese calligraphy and scroll painting, and literature for inspiration. He exhibited widely, and his work is held in major collections worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the British Museum.

While Mazur developed and changed his style and subject matter over the course of his career, the works recently donated to the Davis are typical of Mazur’s work in the 1970s—realistic organic forms composed from looser, textured strokes. The compositions focus on the interaction of the flora and architecture in the Wellesley College greenhouse in order to put the viewer in the space: humid, warm, light, and completely surrounded by plants. The relationship between humans and nature can be seen in both the built environment, but also the viewpoint of the compositions, as the foliage towers over the viewer and encompasses the majority of the space. Prior to this gift, the Davis held fifteen prints by Mazur, fourteen of which are from his 1963-65 portfolio “Images from a Locked Ward” that depicts the emotional turmoil of patients in a mental hospital. Not only do the new acquisitions represent Wellesley and its greenhouse as it was in the 1970s, but this gift adds a new subject, landscape, and three paintings and five drawings by an important artist to the collection.