Chassey, Éric de, Marcia Hafif, la période romaine, 1961-1969, Geneva, Mamco, 2010→
Lefebvre, Arnaud, Marcia Hafif, écrits et interviews, Paris, Galerie Arnaud Lefebvre, 1994→
Weckop-Conrads, Helga, Marcia Hafif, Red Paintings, Neuss, Galerie Conrads, 1990
Marcia Hafif, the invetory : painting, Laguna Art Museum, June 28 – September 27, 2015→
Marcia Hafif : Films (1970-1999), Galerie Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, Munich, July 17 – September 30, 2018
Marcia Hafif grew up in California and was educated at Pomona College until 1951. Her career really began in December 1961, when she moved to Italy, living there until 1969. In Rome, she mixed with the Italian avant- garde of the time (Carla Accardi (1924-2014) was a particularly close friend), producing more than two hundred paintings that were virtually unknown until the 1990s. She describes this group of major works, including 84. and 123., as ‘minimal pop’. Hard-edge lines, the interplay of positive and negative, strong colours, and rounded, sometimes biomorphic shapes: in these paintings, the possible symbolism of the abstract idiom and the abstraction from any figuration merge.
Returning to California, M. Hafif started a course at the University of California (Irvine), where Robert Irwin (1928-) and Craig Kauffman (1932-2010) were teaching. She gave up painting for a period for film, photography, and sound installation. In 1971, she went to New York, joining the Sonnabend Gallery in 1973. At that time, her painting was becoming monochromatic.
Her 1978 article in Artforum on the future of abstract art, ‘Beginning Again’, attracted a lot of attention. The interest she expressed in European experiments, and especially the French group Supports / Surfaces, was unusual in New York at the time. Olivier Mosset (1944-) then approached her, and with a few others they soon set up a group that made history in 1984 with the Radical Painting exhibition organized by Thomas Krens at Williams College, Massachusetts. Her work can be divided into different series representing the parameters defining painting (in particular material, colour, application technique). She returned to California in 1999. In 2011, MAMCO in Geneva put on an exhibition of the work that she did while she was living in Rome, and in 2015 the Laguna Art Museum held a very belated first retrospective, which toured Switzerland.
Looking back on her career in 2010, M. Hafif said: “It never occurred to me that I could not succeed in painting on the basis of being a woman. Nor did I feel that I must search out a ‘woman’s way’… I did not see that my sex should prevent me from doing the work I wanted to do.” She went on to say: “There was a naiveté in this, however, which served me well.”
As published in Women in Abstraction © 2021 Thames & Hudson Ltd, London
Marcia Hafif, Untitled, 1978, watercolor on paper, 28.89 x 28.89 cm, Albright-Knox Art Gallery collection, Buffalo, New York
Marcia Hafif, Warm Sepia, 1980, watercolor on paper, left scheet 19.68 x 22.22 cm, right sheet 19.05 x 24.13 cm, Albright-Knox Art Gallery collection, Buffalo, New York
Marcia Hafif, French Painting Terraile, 1990, oil on canvas, 152.4 x 152.4 cm, Albright-Knox Art Gallery collection, Buffalo, New York
Marcia Hafif, Red Series, Indian Yellow Tint, 1998, oil on canvas, 47.32 x 147.32 x 3.81 cm, Albright-Knox Art Gallery collection Buffalo, New York
Marcia Hafif, Paliogen Maroon, 1998, oil on canvas, 147.32 x 147.32 cm, Albright-Knox Art Gallery collection, Buffalo, New York
Marcia Hafif, Payne’s Gray, 2002, watercolor on paper, 19.05 x 26.03 cm, Albright-Knox Art Gallery collection Buffalo, New York