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Marcia Hafif, 2000

Marcia Hafif is a major figure in the international world of monochrome painting. She was instrumental in the establishment of the monochrome painting movement in the United States, starting with her seminal article, "Beginning Again", published in Art Forum in 1978. In response to her article, Olivier Mosset suggested forming a group of radical painters to discuss their work. Hafif curated several shows of the group's work (Julian Pretto Gallery, Sarah Lawrence College, Sidney Janis Gallery) and in 1981 was asked by Thomas Krens to show her work at the Williams College Museum of Art. Hafif instead suggested showing the work of the entire group; this led to the groundbreaking exhibition that launched the name "Radical Painting".

Originally from California, Hafif moved to New York in 1971. There she decided to stop painting in order to "begin again", rather than painting in ways that she (and many people in the art world) considered exhausted. She started with the most basic medium, pencil and paper, and proceeded though an exploration of a wide variety of paint materials. Each new series has worked off the preceding one. In addition to work in her studio, Hafif has traveled to many locations and has used her observations and interests to produce a body of work that is faithfully monochrome but nevertheless extremely varied and adventurous.

Hafif spent her childhood and other briefer but significant periods in Laguna Beach, California. She recalls sitting on the beach in 1970, in the meditative state induced by sight and sound of the ocean. After moving to New York the following year, she began producing monochrome drawings, working in a systematic way with pencil strokes that started in the upper left corner of the paper and eventually filled the whole page. In retrospect, she feels that the new work was in some way a continuation of her experience sitting on the California beach.

In the intervening years, Marcia Hafif has continued to live, work and exhibit in New York; she has also exhibited throughout Europe since 1973. Recently she began spending part of her time in California, and the beach has once again become a source of material. In the Pacific Ocean Series, Hafif has been drawn to the soft colors of the ocean, the sky, the rocks and even seashells. This present work continues her use of evenly applied vertical brushstrokes of oil on canvas. She hopes these paintings provoke in the viewer the same state of calm and concentration in which they were painted.

Hafif holds a BA from Pomona College and an MFA from the University of California at Irvine. Museum exhibitions include: PS1 Museum, Long Island City, NY; Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal, Germany; studio a, Otterndorf, Germany; Karo Dame, Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland; FRAC Bourgogne, Dijon, France; MOCA, Los Angeles CA. Coming up in February: Marcia Hafif, Italian Paintings 1962-1968, Mamco, Geneva, Switzerland. 

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