Mary Heilmann was born in 1940 in San Francisco, California. She earned a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara (1962), and an MA from the University of California, Berkeley (1967). For every piece of Heilmann’s work—abstract paintings, ceramics, and furniture—there is a backstory. Imbued with recollections, stories spun from her imagination, and references to music, aesthetic influences, and dreams, her paintings are like meditations or icons. Her expert and sometimes surprising treatment of paint—alternately diaphanous and goopy—complements a keen sense of color that glories in the hues and light that emanate from her laptop and finds inspiration in the saturated hues of popular culture at-large.

Mary Heilmann has received the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation Award (2006) and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. She has had major exhibitions at Whitechapel Gallery, London, United Kingdom (2016); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2015); Kunst Museum Bonn, Bonn, Germany (2013); New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2008) and Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California (2007), among others. Her work has appeared in three Whitney Biennial exhibitions (1972, 1989, 2008) and is in many collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Orange County Museum of Art. In June of 2022, Primary Information published a facsimile edition of her highly revered 1999 memoir-monograph, The All Night Movie. In November of 2022, Dia Art Foundation will be honoring Mary Heilmann at their annual fall gala in New York City. Mary Heilmann lives and works in New York and Bridgehampton.

Born San Francisco CA, 1940
Lives and works in New York NY


1963 – 1967, M.A. Ceramics and sculpture, University of California at Berkeley
1963, Poetry and Ceramics, San Francisco State University
1959 – 1962, B.A. in Literature, University of California at Santa Barbara



Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, ‘Mary Heilmann: Squaring Davis’, Davis CA

Hauser & Wirth, ‘Mary Heilmann. Highway, Oceans, Daydreams’, Southampton NY



The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, ’52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone’, Ridgefield CT
Hauser & Wirth, ‘Chromophilia’, Zürich, Switzerland
Museum Haus Konstruktiv, ‘Geometric Opulence’, Zürich, Switzerland

Alexander Berggruen, ‘Shapes’, New York NY



Biennial Award for Contemporary Art, Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, Netherlands
Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, University of Hartford, Hartford CT

The Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation Award



Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Secession, Vienna, Austria
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C. Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York



‘Mary Heilmann. Seeing Things. Vision, Waves and Roads’, edited by Jochen Kienbaum, Cologne/DE: Snoeck, 2012
‘Future Greats 2012: Paul Gabrielli’, in: Art Review, March 2012, p.81

‘Survey: Music.’, in: Frieze, London/UK, September 2011
‘Conversations with paintings’, in: Tate ETC, London/UK, pp. 80-81
‘Nicholas Krushenick: A Survey’, New York: Gary Snyder Gallery
‘Obsessive-Compulsive Daydreaming’, in: Art Journal, Summer, 2011
Heilmann, Mary, ‘Cory Arcangel’, in: Interview, April 2011

Her compositions are often hybrid spatial environments that juxtapose two- and three-dimensional renderings in a single frame, join several canvases into new works, or create diptychs of paintings and photographs in the form of prints, slideshows, and videos. Heilmann’s discerning eye for geometry and color extends to her handmade tables and chairs, which she stages in intimate seating arrangements and expansive interventions, as in her site-specific work Sunset, which filled the terrace of the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2015.