Mary Cassatt: Transient States

Mary Cassatt, Woman Seated in a Loge, ca. 1881, Lithograph State: i/ii, Samuel P
Mary Cassatt, Woman Seated in a Loge, ca. 1881, Lithograph State: i/ii, Samuel Putnam Avery Collection (image courtesy of the New York Public Library)

Barry Schwabsky reviews the exhibition Daring Methods: The Prints of Mary Cassatt at the New York Public Library, on view through June 23, 2013.

Schwabsky draws an interesting comparison between the approaches of Cassatt and De Kooning, writing: "As odd as it might be to compare the intimist Cassatt to an Abstract Expressionist like de Kooning, the supposedly macho paint-slinger, the two had more in common than you’d think... Far from the cliché of 'action painting' as a rough and tumble of muscular effort, de Kooning thought that his painting was based on the perception that a person sitting in a chair might have of another person likewise seated, and realizing that amid all this sitting, the activity of perception encompasses all sorts of fugitive 'glimpses.' In this, he was only following the insights of Cassatt and her friends. The preponderance of seated figures among the more than sixty Cassatt prints on display should not delude one into imagining that her art celebrates passivity or ease. The probing, critical, self-revising edge of her testing lines and robust masses—her impatience with what has been done, and her tireless persistence in what is to be done next—was above all relentlessly active."