Vantage PointsPaintings by Mernet Larsen

July 2 – October 30, 2016

Above: Mernet Larsen, American (b. 1940), Icon (detail), 2004, acrylic, tracing paper, and oil on canvas, Gift of Michael Graham.

Mernet Larsen makes complex paintings that are multivalent in their layers and perspectives. Purposefully creating tension between volume and space in her work, she writes, “I want to celebrate the complex internal conflict that vitalizes life, using the particular experiences of my life as building blocks, as a novelist might.”

Working in an abstract yet narrative style, it is Larsen’s unique sense of perspective that makes her paintings so engaging. In 2000, she entered a phase of her career deemed Geometric Figuration. Citing a desire to revisit fifteenth-century Italian painting in which figures are situated within highly detailed architectural spaces, Larsen began to create narrative scenes that upset any sense of the illusory perspectives of traditional representation. Thanks to Museum donors Eric Lang Peterson and Michael Graham, the Museum of Fine Arts is proud to have four major paintings by Larsen from across her career in the collection.

Originally from Michigan, Larsen studied at the University of Florida (BFA) and Indiana University (MFA). She began teaching at the University of South Florida in 1967 and is now Professor Emeritus of Painting. Larsen has had over 25 solo exhibitions at museums and galleries, including James Cohan Gallery, New York, 2016; Vogt Gallery, New York, 2012; Regina Rex, Bushwick, 2011; New York Studio School, 2005; and a 25-year retrospective at the Deland Museum of Art, Florida, 1992. Larsen is a recipient of a regional NEA Grant and a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship, and also received USF grant support for research in China, Japan, and India, and is a McDowell Fellow. The artist divides her time between Jackson Heights, NY, and Tampa, FL.