Irene Rice Pereira was born in 1907 in Boston, Massachusets and died in 1971 in Malaga, Spain. She attended night classes at New York University in the late 1920's and then studied at the Art Students League. In 1935, she helped to found the WPA-sponsored Design Laboratory in New York. She began making Non-Objective paintings in 1937 that were largely inspired by the teachings of the Bauhaus. She also drew large influence from C. Howard Hinton's book The Fourth Dimension, becoming interested in the movement of light between planes. To enhance the reflection of light, she often ground metallic pigments and other shiny substances like marble dust in her paint.
Working towards a synthesis of 20th century art and science, she sought out visual imagery that dealt with recent revolutionary discoveries in mathematics, physics, biochemistry and radioactivity. Much of this work took the form of hard-edged, abstract canvases with sharply defined horizontal and vertical lines.
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To achieve a thickened pigment raised slightly from the surface, she experimented with various means of paint application: scraping, spattering or carving with the blade of a knife. Painting on a range of surfaces in addition to canvas (glass, parchment, canvas, masonite and others), she would often place planes of transparent material in front of opaque ones. The created the effect of a complex, interwoven field of light and color.
Pereira's interest in light and translucent materials connected her to Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, who was briefly involved with the WPA Design Laboratory before founding his own new Bauhaus in Chicago in 1937. She also produced a large amount of writing on the themes of her visual work. Several volumes of essays and drawings were published including The Nature of Space (1956), The Lapis (1957), and The Transcendental Formal Logic of the Infinite (1966). Her work was the subject of retrospective exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in 1946 and the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1953.
INTRODUCTION TO IRENE RICE PEREIRA
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