Marcia Hafif

Marcia Woods was born in 1929 in Pomona, California. After graduating from Pomona College in 1951 and marrying Herbert Hafif, she planned a year-long trip to Florence in 1961. Hafif settled, however, in Rome, where she remained for almost eight years, painting and exhibiting work she has called “Pop-Minimal.” These works were shown for the first time in the United States in, Marcia Hafif: The Italian Paintings 1961–1969 at Fergus McCaffrey, New York, 2016. Returning to California in 1969, and leaving painting for a time to experiment with film, photography and sound installation, she completed an MFA degree at the University of California at Irvine.

In 1971, Hafif moved to New York City to search out a return to painting at a time when the validity of painting was in doubt and not finding a satisfactory path, she woke on the morning of January 1, 1972, to make her first Pencil on Paper drawing. Using short vertical marks, Hafif covered from top to bottom a 24 x 18 inch sheet of drawing paper. This method was later used in the development of her “color study” paintings. In An Extended Gray Scale, 1972-73, a work that occupied her for nearly a year, she painted gradations from black to white. Painting as many gradations she could distinguish, she completed a total of one hundred and six 22 x 22 inch oil paintings on standard cotton canvases.

Exhibiting for more than eight years with Sonnabend Gallery in Soho and Paris from 1974 to 1981, she developed series of paintings that would become the basis of what came to be called The Inventory: 1974, Mass Tone Paintings; 1975, Wall Paintings; 1976, Pencil Drawings; 1978, Neutral Mix Paintings; 1979, Broken Color Paintings presented at The Clocktower with Alanna Heiss; and 1981, Black Paintings. Hafif continues to add to The Inventory. Most recently, works include the Splash Paintings, 2009-10, and the Shade Paintings, 2013.

In the 1980s and 1990s she developed new series, along with relationships with galleries in Europe, first in Munich, then Dusseldorf, and eventually Vienna, London, Paris, and elsewhere. Hafif’s work has been exhibited extensively in museums, notably at MoMA PS 1 in 1990; Haus für Konstruktive und Konkrete Kunst, Zurich, 1995; FRAC Bourgogne, Dijon, 2000; and MAMCO, Geneva, 2001. In the United States, Hafif’s work was most recently seen in Marcia Hafif: From The Inventory at Laguna Art Museum, 2015, and forthcoming retrospectives will be presented at the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen and Kunsthaus Baselland in 2017. Hafif divides her time between Laguna Beach, California, and New York City.

Selected Artworks

October 13, 2017

FIAC 2017: Top galleries in “Avenue Winston Churchill, On Site”

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FIAC 2017, the International Art Fair exhibiting the best Contemporary Art galleries of the world, awaits its grand opening on October 19 in Paris. This year FIAC will have two sub-sections, Avenue Winston Churchill and Petit Palais, showcasing outdoor works featuring seminal works by the most prominent galleries all over the world. These two sub-sections fall in FIAC’s new sub division of “On Site” that was introduced last year. Read More
September 5, 2017

Marcia Hafif: Upcoming Museum Shows in Switzerland

Opening at Kunsthaus Baselland: Thursday 14th September, 6:30 PM

The MARCIA HAFIF exhibition is created in collaboration with the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (MARCIA HAFIF: September 16-January 14, 2018) and the Kunsthaus Baselland in Muttenz (MARCIA HAFIF: September 15–November 12, 2017).
Hafif (b.1929, USA, living in New York and Laguna Beach) is among the pioneers of the 1970s who fundamentally broadened con­ceptions of the practice of painting and under­standing of art per se. Since the 1980s, terms like ‘radical’ have been used to describe Hafif’s work with monochrome painting. The pencil on paper drawings, vertical pencil marks cover­ ing a surface, begun in 1972, led to the ver­tical stroke in paint. Her work in both mediums still continues, fitting within what she calls The Inventory. Each series included in The Inventory develops a single medium using tra­ditional methods and materials for making paint and preparing a ground. Individual works in a series can be larger or smaller, and usually are made with vertical brush­strokes, with which the effects of unmixed colours on a suit­able painting ground are sounded out. Works from the series that may be her most radical will be exhibited at the Kunsthaus Baselland: the Black Paintings (1979/80) in which she found black by layering ultramarine blue and burnt umber. There will also be photographs and films on display.
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