To see: ‘Betty Blayton: In Search of Grace’ at the Mnuchin Gallery in New York explores five decades of pioneering abstract artists

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Installation view of “Betty Blayton: In Search of Grace”

On View presents images from remarkable exhibitions

THE EXHIBITION “In Search of Grace” offers a rare opportunity to see the work of Betty Blayton (1937-2016) over five decades. Known for her “spiritual abstractions”, Blayton used poetic palettes and often worked in the tondo format. Obsessed with beauty and grace, her images speak to nature and conjure up metaphysical themes. Paintings and works on paper from the late 1960s to 2014 can be seen at the Mnuchin Gallery.

A pioneering artist and institution founder, Blayton has pushed back against norms throughout her life and career. She was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, where higher education institutions remained segregated following the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling. Virginia abandoned integration and instead chose to pay African American students to attend extra-state schools. Blayton took the opportunity and earned a degree in painting and illustration from Syracuse University (1959).

She lived in New York City in the 1960s and pursued abstraction when figuration was the expected form of expression for black artists. In addition to her own practice, she was an active leader in the art scene. When artists of African descent were largely excluded from exhibition opportunities in mainstream museums and galleries, Blayton helped set up the historic Studio Museum in Harlem. She also co-founded and for 30 years executive director of the Children’s Art Carnival in Harlem (1968-98), an offshoot of an educational program of the Museum of Modern Art that included a young artist named Jean-Michel Basquiat among her students.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog written by the art historian Lowery Stokes Sims, a close friend of Blayton’s. CT

“Betty Blayton: In Search of Grace” is on view September 8th through October at the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, NY. 16, 2021

FIND MORE about the exhibition


Installation view of Betty Blayton: In Search of Grace, Mnuchin Gallery, New York, NY (September 8 – October 16, 2021). | Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon


BETTY BLAYTON, “In Search of Grace”, 2006 (acrylic on canvas, 76.2 x 76.2 cm). | © Betty Blayton’s estate. Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York. Photo by Timothy Doyon


Installation view of Betty Blayton: In Search of Grace, Mnuchin Gallery, New York, NY (September 8 – October 16, 2021). | Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon


Installation view of Betty Blayton: In Search of Grace, Mnuchin Gallery, New York, NY (September 8 – October 16, 2021). | Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon


BETTY BLAYTON, “Sound Intruding”, 1980 (acrylic and colored rice paper on canvas, 90.2 x 90.2 cm). | © Betty Blayton’s estate. Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon


Installation view of Betty Blayton: In Search of Grace, Mnuchin Gallery, New York, NY (September 8 – October 16, 2021). | Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon


BETTY BLAYTON, “Fractured Thought”, 1999 (acrylic and oil pastel on canvas, 58 ½ x 58 ½ inches / 148.6 x 148.6 cm). | © Betty Blayton’s estate. Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon


Installation view of Betty Blayton: In Search of Grace, Mnuchin Gallery, New York, NY (September 8 – October 16, 2021). | Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon


BETTY BLAYTON, “Roots”, 1969 (oil on canvas, 152.4 x 101.6 cm). | © Betty Blayton’s estate. Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon


Installation view of Betty Blayton: In Search of Grace, Mnuchin Gallery, New York, NY (September 8 – October 16, 2021). | Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon


Installation view of Betty Blayton: In Search of Grace, Mnuchin Gallery, New York, NY (September 8 – October 16, 2021). | Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon


BETTY BLAYTON, “Consciousness Traveling”, 2012 (acrylic on canvas, 151.1 x 151.1 cm). | © Betty Blayton’s estate. Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon


Installation view of Betty Blayton: In Search of Grace, Mnuchin Gallery, New York, NY (September 8 – October 16, 2021). | Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon


Installation view of Betty Blayton: In Search of Grace, Mnuchin Gallery, New York, NY (September 8 – October 16, 2021). | Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon


BETTY BLAYTON, “Tarot”, 1970 (oil collage on canvas, 75.6 x 75.6 cm). | © Betty Blayton’s estate. Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon


Installation view of Betty Blayton: In Search of Grace, Mnuchin Gallery, New York, NY (September 8 – October 16, 2021). | Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon


BETTY BLAYTON, “A Long Way from Home”, 1977 (acrylic on canvas, 73.7 x 73.7 cm). | © Betty Blayton’s estate. Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon


Installation view of Betty Blayton: In Search of Grace, Mnuchin Gallery, New York, NY (September 8 – October 16, 2021). | Courtesy of the estate and the Mnuchin Gallery, New York, photo by Timothy Doyon

FIND MORE about Betty Blayton on her website

BOOKSHELF
On the occasion of “Betty Blayton: In Search of Grace”, Galerie Mnuchin published a fully illustrated catalog, written by the art historian Lowery Stokes Sims.

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