Florence Pierce has lived most of her long and remarkably productive life in the southwestern area of the United States. Born in Washington, DC in 1918, she made childhood trips to New Mexico to visit relatives, and then convinced her parents to allow her to study in Taos at the age of eighteen. She has lived primarily in New Mexico since 1936 (with relatively brief stays in Los Angeles, New York, and her native city before 1946).
From her earliest years as a student of the visual arts, she has been exposed to philosophies and theories related to both the making of art and its potential for shaping and enhancing human existence - including Zen Buddhism, mysticism, transcendentalism, and the "Dynamic Symmetry" of the painter and educator, Emil Bisttram, while at the same time being fascinated with the theories and work of the Russian Suprematist, Kasimir Malevich. Throughout the absorption of all of these cerebral and cultural influences, she has remained devoted to finding her own path as an artist. The vagaries of fate more than once temporarily sidetracked her progress in her early years, but since the late 1960s she has been totally focused on her chosen discipline of painting, and a singular body of work has flowed forth. Always open to both unusual materials and new processes of working, it was not only through years of patient and imaginative investigation but also a wonderfully fortuitous "accident" that she discovered a means of creating paintings which possess a captivating interior luminosity.
In discovering the effects of resin resting upon a highly reflective surface, Pierce began a continuous process of focusing and editing her work - limiting her palette to hues of grey and white by the mid-1980s and working in contrasts of black and white by 1989. As important, she gradually narrowed the types of formats in which she worked, eliminating the specific geometric silhouette such as triangle and arc, and by the early 1990s, the square had become the predominant shape. As expressed by transformations in her work over a period of more than thirty years, she has continuously sought a way of expressing the contemplative side of man's nature and reflecting a Buddhist-inspired "stilling of the mind" in her work.
She continually sought "simplicity" in her work - eliminating more and more the design-like elements in the work to make it "as pure as possible". While she has stated more than once that she is most satisfied with the works involving a palette of whites, she has on occasion surrendered to the siren call of vibrant colors (most recently in 1996).
The exhibition of this distinguished artist's work at Howard Scott Gallery will be composed of works made between 1982 and 2001. Most of these works were included in the artist's recent survey exhibition at Tucson Museum of Art (Arizona), and all of them are being lent to the forthcoming exhibition courtesy of Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Inc.
Florence Pierce's work has been included in many thematic exhibitions in American museums, including The Second Wave: American Abstraction of the 1930's and 1940's, Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts, 1991 (and tour); Kandinsky and the American Avant-Garde: 1912 – 1950, Dayton Art Institute, Ohio, 1992 (and tour, including The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC); Still Working , The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 1994 (and tour, including I.B.M. Gallery, New York); and In Pursuit of Perfection: The Work of Agnes Martin, Maria Martinez, and Florence Pierce, Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico; 2004-05. In 2005, Tucson Museum of Art , Arizona, presented a solo exhibition for Pierce: Contemporary Southwest Images XX: Florence Pierce: A Light-filled Domain..
Her work is included in the permanent collections of a number of museums and universities, including Albright – Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Dallas Museum of Art, Texas; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; The Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas; Henry Art Museum, University of Washington, Seattle; and Rockefeller University, New York.