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To Speak of Everything: The Art of Raymond Mason

Raymond Mason, “Les Épouvantées,” 1956, epoxy resin, 32 x 41 x 14 ½ inches. The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation.

The New York Studio School is pleased to present To Speak of Everything: The Art of Raymond Mason from January 9 — February 20, 2023. Curated by Leo Costello and Sarah Wilson, the exhibition  will include several of Mason’s polychromatic sculptures as well as watercolors and ink drawings executed from the 1950s to the 1990s. Drawing from the extensive collection of The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation, the exhibition will highlight the studio-intensive process of a sculptor whose works are rooted in a lifelong and sympathetic recording of people, faces, crowds, and the places in which he lived.

This will be the first representative exhibition in New York that addresses the major themes of Mason’s work over a 50-year period. Despite Mason’s standing among his historically recognized peers and his later international success, his work has not been widely included in more recent conversations. Through decades in which so many artists were involved in variations of the modernist impulse toward reduction and abstraction, Mason’s allegiance with tangible depictions of human life – done in vividly painted, multi-figured tableaux, no less – became hard to place. It is perhaps during this present moment of renewed interest in figuration, along with its untidy associations of history and narrative, that Mason’s work might be seen anew. Through sure-handed ink-drawings, nuanced watercolors, and ambitious sculptures, Mason builds in his work a generous and visually abundant view of our peopled world.

Raymond Mason (British, 1922-2010) studied at the Birmingham School of Arts and Crafts and the Slade School of Art and moved to Paris in 1946 where he was part of the artistic circle that included Balthus, Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, Sam Szafran, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Through the Pierre Matisse Gallery, Louis-Dreyfus began collecting the work of Mason in the late 1960s. Mason’s keen and insightful engagement with his subjects – from architecture to landscape to passers-by on the street – would resonate deeply with Louis-Dreyfus who came to view Mason’s work as central to his collection.

Mason is represented in public and private collections in the United States and in Europe, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington; the Tate Gallery, London; and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Awarded the title Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1978 and an Order of the British Empire in the New Year Honours 2002, Mason was the subject of retrospectives at the Serpentine Gallery, London, and the Centre Georges Pompidou.

This exhibition will be accompanied by a book about the artist with an introduction by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, essays by Leo Costello, Sarah Wilson, and Christina Kee, published by The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation.

Generous support for the exhibition is provided by The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and Center for Figurative Painting.


Leo Costello, Associate Professor of Art History, Rice University, Houston

Sarah Wilson, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Courtauld, University of London

Snapshots From NYSS

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