Mary Henderson
"Mary Henderson: istantanee da un weekend," %L'Espresso, February 24, 2014
Harper’s Magazine, July, 2011 (image reproduction)
“Interview with Mary Henderson,” Hypocrite Design (
“Hyper-Real Oil Paintings of Found Vacation Photos,” Maria Galperina, Animal New York, May 11, 2011
"Mary Henderson plunders photo-sharing sites for recent vacation photos of bored teens and breeders making their seasonal suburban exodus to the beach. Then, she appropriates them into photo-realistic portraits. Her work is a nod to late-19th-century Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist art theme of languishing “bathers,” a remix of the banal as “archetypal” and just a tad bit creepy."
"Check out: Mary Henderson’s The Bathers at Lyons Wier Gallery from May 12 – June 11, 2011", Arte Fuse, May 13, 2011
"La spiaggia iperrealista di Mary Henderson," %L'Espresso,% June 3, 2011
Ben Fulton, The Salt Lake Tribune, December 31, 2009
Back at you: BYU Museum exhibition considers the identity questions

"If you're interested in modern art, Brigham Young University's "Mirror Mirror" is a must-see exhibition, with 32 local and international artists and work spanning the artistic genres of installation, multimedia, painting, photography and video. Just be sure you show up at BYU's Museum of Art with a full stomach after a full night's sleep. If you're serious about taking in this exhibition's 56 works for all they offer, chances are you'll cancel lunch. But you'll feel a delicious sense of exhaustion, hours later, when you leave...

Some of the exhibition's most technically accomplished work comes from Mary Henderson, who uses oil and gouache to produce striking, small-scale realistic portraits of Army Reservists, football fans and old friends. The images reproduced, however, aren't so traditional, but were taken online from the Internet.

Lambson said ignoring traditional portraiture in an exhibition about identity would have been a grave omission. Ignoring a new approach would have been just as grave. 'The key is finding realistic, narrative artists that have new meaning in their work.'"
Brian Palmer, Design Arts Daily, November 3, 2008
"A few days ago I was dodging raindrops after grabbing a cup of coffee at Cafe Grumpy in Chelsea. I was wet, caffeinated, and in a hurry to get to my office. As I blew past the storefront windows of the Lyons Wier Ortt Gallery on the corner of Seventh Avenue and 20th Street, I stopped. And then I doubled back and stared. I saw pictures of young soldiers, sailors, and Marines grinning, kicking back, and bugging out for whoever captured the snapshot-like pictures that hung on the gallery walls. I saw a lightness in the faces; a playfulness in some, cockiness in others.

A Marine in woodland camouflage sacks out on the ground cradling his M-16; the arms, legs, and half a mouth of another man spill out of the edges of the scene. Two Army staff sergeants in mirror shades pose in another painting. One smiles formally; the other wears a serious game face, a cigarillo lodged in the corner of his mouth. A half-smiling soldier behind them looks down, as if caught unaware at the moment the imaginary shutter was tripped. They didn’t look hard or damaged, which is how so many of the 20-something service members I know now look after two, three, and four deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The pictures had an innocence-unlost air. The subjects reminded me of young marines I met in Iraq while embedded as a journalist. I found myself thinking: What happened to these kids after these pictures were captured?

Inside and up close, I saw the fine strokes of artist Mary Henderson’s brush and realized these were paintings, not photographs. I sighed. I’m a photojournalist, and I harbor a certain skepticism toward photorealistic painting. Why not just hang the actual photos, save a step? But then I stepped back from the walls to truly look at the paintings before judging them.

While the paintings in the show, titled “Forces,” are meticulously rendered, they aren’t mimetic equivalents of photographs. Henderson’s focus, gallery co-owner Michael Lyons Wier explains to me, is “the expressiveness in the physiognomy.” Henderson knows light, and she plays with it in faces. She extrapolates from nature in the harsh glare of sunlight or a flash unit, interpolates in the shadows to achieve a buttery and glowing texture. Less salient details in the frame are given less obsessive attention. That’s her “interpretive hand” at work, says Lyons Wier.

Henderson’s brother, a US Navy Commander, served in Iraq in 2007. “She became fascinated with images that depicted soldiers in uniform, but in noncombat settings,” the artist’s bio reads. To produce the work, Henderson surfs photo-sharing websites, re-crops and refocuses the images, and then paints from the resulting image. She cites 19th-century neo-classical painters Jacques-Louis David and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres as inspirations. Not knowing who these gentlemen were - European art history troglodyte that I am - I offered a tentative comparison to Norman Rockwell in my chat with Lyons Wier and his partner Anna Ortt, hoping it wouldn’t offend. It didn’t. “Rockwell was a master realist, and he worked very politically in his painting,” says Lyons Wier.

For me, Henderson’s paintings evoke the oh-so-familiar feeling of “non-normal normalcy” - Henderson’s term, according to Ortt - for the hurry-up-and wait rhythm of the military.I leave the gallery feeling much like I do after spending time at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina, photographing deploying troops, which I have done many times since 2004. There’s an infectious sense of fun and frivolity in nearly every painting, a superficial allure to the bright and shiny faces. I want to latch onto these priceless and fleeting moments, even though I know they are constructed in Henderson’s mind.

I hit Seventh Avenue on a bittersweet high, with an almost heartbreaking sense of impending loss."
Harper’s Magazine, December, 2006 (image reproduction)
Michael Amy, Art in America, January 2007
"There is something almost frightening about the perfectly shallow lives of the young women in Mary Henderson's small paintings and drawings (none here was larger than 11 by 14 or 14 by 11 inches). Aiming for the superficial slickness of snapshots, she bases her carefully crafted images on pictures posted by the subjects themselves on photo-sharing Web sites. They appear as they want to be seen by friends, acquaintances and total strangers, revealing their exhibitionistic urges. They remind us that the Internet places 15 minutes of fame within everyone's reach, regardless of how undeserving. With digital cameras and cell phones allowing for unrestrained picture-taking, surveillance cameras peering down at us from everywhere, and reality TV bombarding us left and right, an overload of images of ourselves has become central to our identity. As this work implies, our culture is all about surface.

Henderson's meticulous technique in her oils on panel, executed with almost invisible brushstrokes, allows her to attain the luminosity and high finish of a color photograph, though with a slight softness in the modeling. End of the Year (all works 2006) shows a brunette girl at a three-quarter angle from above. She is seated on the grass with her arms and legs bared; her right arm, on which she leans, is cut off just above the wrist by the bottom edge of the wrist in the kind of brutal cropping inherent to snapshots. Her foreshortened body fills almost the entire height and width of this painting, as if she is boxed in -- although, on this sunny day, she exudes glee. Like her 19th-century forebears seated or reclining on cloths spread on the ground, she may hardly be as innocent as she seems.

Game Day shows three girls in close-up, arranged bust-length one behind the other, flashing perfect smiles at the camera, with snippets of a sports-loving crowd behind them. As in almost all the other paintings and drawings, here too we are presented with affluent, all-American, good-looking Caucasian girls at leisure, seemingly without a trouble in their world, doing what their class does best. The title of this exhibition is, after all, "Right Clique." They know what they are supposed to like, what they are supposed to wear and whom they are supposed to hang out with. Henderson does not pass judgment. Her glib work is perfectly attuned to this culture of youth."
Fred Camper, Chicago Reader, Friday, December 24, 2004
"Mary Henderson's 15 small paintings at Zg are based on photos. Henderson says her subject is the mix of ritual and spontaneity found in 'structured recreation' at carnivals, theme parks and arcades. In Balloon Game, a tattooed man in a sleeveless shirt stands next to a young boy in a McDonald's T-shirt who's trying to shoot a balloon; a carny faces them. The trnee figures are of very different sizes and all in the left half of the composition, throwing it off balance; Henderson's deep, bright colors add intensity. These qualities also suggest striving and desire in Sega Pilots. Here, two boys look at a simulated cityscape on an airplane cockpit screen, a scene we see over one boy's left shoulder. The bright cockpit 'window' drew my attention, causing my eyes to swerve to the left. Again, compositional imbalance suggests the edginess and near-delirium of such fantasy games."
Lori Hill, Philadelphia City Paper, March 31-Apri; 7, 2005
First Friday Focus, InLiquid at the Bride

"It's almost alarming that Mary Henderson is able to manipulate gouache and Flashe paint (a superconcentrated synthetic that creates a flat, matte look) to look like a snapshot. "How'd you do that?" is surely a question photorealist painters have become (resignedly) used to. Like the queen of the technique, Audrey Flack, Henderson creates hyperrealistic images -- simple, intimate snapshots of everyday life with photographic precision and detail; fabrics seem to especially intrigue her. But Henderson's work is no mere novelty. Her singular vision elevates the effect from parlor trick to true art."