For Immediate Release
July 2017


Mari Lyons (1935-2016)

FIGURES: Studies from the Model
in Charcoal, Pastel and Oil

July 11 – 29, 2017
Opening Reception: Thursday July 13, 5-8pm

Mari Lyons—in a long and serious career—painted still lifes, landscapes, studio interiors, cityscapes, abstractions, portraits, and the figure. She painted the human figure for more than sixty years, regularly. For much of this time she and two or three colleagues would start with two or three-minute sketches from a model, then longer poses, and finally long enough sessions for more studied work, often pastel on paper. Mari preferred Fabriano paper for the latter, in various colors, on 27 1/2" x 39 1/2" sheets. In her last fifteen years, in her large Woodstock studio, she often worked alone from a model, painting more in oil. She always did a large number of self-portraits, too—throughout her career; she found these a vital form of figure painting and also because, she said, "I don't need to flatter the model."

Mari left more than 70 sketch books and thousands of loose figure studies and portraits, mostly in charcoal and pastel. She thought, like Delacroix, "Never a day without a line," and like Hélion, Cézanne, and many others, that drawing was the heart of all painting. The current exhibition offers some of the quick sketches but concentrates on the pastels, with a few oils and one self-portrait. Though it embodies the concept of "process," it does not attempt to demonstrate how one quick sketch became a particular pastel or oil, but how a serious painter, absolutely committed to the centrality of drawing, worked at this throughout her life.

This is the first of several memorial exhibitions of paintings and drawings by Mari Lyons. The next, focused on her highly praised cityscapes, will be at First Street Gallery in February 2018.

View of works in the exhibition here.

The Bowery Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm. For more information contact the gallery at 646-230-6655 or