Alice Mackler is the first monograph of an artist who has been making highly original work for nearly eighty years. Born in 1931, Mackler today is still pushing forward not only her own art but also the boundaries of contemporary art across sculpture, painting, drawing, and collage. While long beloved and admired by artists, Mackler over the last few years has finally found the wide and enthusiastic audience she deserves. With a focus on the female figure, Mackler’s work is, as Matthew Higgs writes in the book, “a visceral accumulation of her experiences translated into a material form.”
Mackler’s vibrant, voluptuous ceramic sculptures evoke the Venus of Willendorf as well as versions of the female form by Willem de Kooning, Gaston Lachaise, and Niki Saint Phalle. At the same time, her work is in dialogue with contemporary ceramicists such as Ruby Neri, Magdalena Suarez Frimkess, and Betty Woodman. The artist cites Paul Klee as an influence on her paintings, which feel rooted in Modernism. Her drawings call to mind Alexander Calder, Jean Debuffet, and Saul Steinberg.
While these art-historical influences and references are telling, this comprehensive overview of the artist’s career makes clear that her vision is a singular one and genuinely her own. As Kelly Taxter writes in the book’s central essay, “Mackler’s visibility resists the seemingly inevitable invisibility that befalls ageing women.” Now approaching the beginning of her ninth decade, Alice Mackler and her art continue to be as vital, urgent, and current as ever. With texts by Higgs, Taxter, and Joanne Greenbaum.