"I like to feel that I work on a painting until something magical happens. Until it becomes something outside of myself, a new vision."
Emily Mason is born in New York City on January 12. Her mother, artist Alice Trumbull Mason, takes the subway to Sydenham Hospital in Harlem to give birth. Mason’s father, Warwood Edwin Mason, a sea captain for American Export Line, is away at sea.
Mason’s brother Jonathan (“Jo”) Trumbull Mason, is born on November 16th, sharing a birthday with their mother.
Mason attends the Little Red Schoolhouse on Charlton Street in Greenwich Village.
In 1938, Mason’s mother moves the family to Horatio Street in Greenwich Village to Knickerbocker Village, located between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.
Mason recalls, "Summers (between 1938 and 1940) were spent at a farm camp in Buck's county, Ottsville, Pennsylvania...I remember playing in the brook near the farmhouse where we all lived. We would crush different colored stones to make a powder/pigment/paste and paint flat rocks with this "paint." We also used Polkberry juice, which was fuchsia."
Mason’s mother rents the family a bungalow near Fishkill, NY, for the summer of 1942. She and the children plant what was known during the war years as a Victory Garden or a vegetable garden. Mason would later recall fondly her mother teaching her to make ketchup from their tomatoes: “To this day, I cannot stand commercially made ketchup.”
Mason spends part of her childhood summers in Friendship, Maine with her aunt Mary McGarvey. Due to a circulatory condition, Mason’s father becomes port captain for the American Export Line; this allows him to be home with the family and no longer away at sea. The family moves to West 85th Street near Riverside Drive, and Mason is enrolled in Public School No. 9.
Mason attends the High School of Music and Art, which exposes her to cultural programming and museum visits. With her mother, she begins visiting the Artist’s Club at its original location on East 8th Street.
In June of 1950, Mason graduates from the High School of Music and Art and is accepted into Bennington College in Vermont.
Mason transfers from Bennington College to The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. In the summer of 1952, Mason attends the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine as one of two scholarship recipients; here, she is particularly influenced by Jack Lenor Larsen’s lectures on analogous color theory. Mason stated that these lectures “enabled [her] to continuously discover how colors can affect each other, a visual magic.”
Throughout her years at Cooper Union, Mason takes a night job at the New York Public Library on 42nd Street and 5th Avenue. Mason enjoys her cohort and faculty at The Cooper Union, and studies with Morris Kantor, Nicholas Mariscano, and Will Barnet. Mason lives with her friend Johanna Bourne on East 10th Street near 2nd Avenue.
In the summer of 1954, Mason and Bourne travel throughout Europe with fellow student Alan Gussow, who is living in the American Academy in Rome. The trip has an enormous impact on Mason and shapes much of her understanding of Western Art. In France, she sees the recently discovered Lascaux Caves. In Italy, she sees Giotto’s frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, the mosaics in Ravenna, and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Mason is graduated from The Cooper Union in 1955 and attends the Yale-Norfolk Summer Art School where she studies with Conrad Marca-Relli.
Mason is awarded a Fulbright grant to study in Venice. In April, at a meeting of the Artist’s Club, she meets the artist Wolf Kahn. Mason spends the summer with him in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she observes a critique given by Hans Hoffmann at his school.
In the fall, Mason sets sail for Venice along with other Fulbright scholars. The group studies Italian for a month in Perugia, where Mason’s roommate is Lee Bontecou. When the course is over, Mason travels to Venice and enrolls in the Accademia di Belle Arti, where she studies with Bruno Saetti. In December, Mason meets Kahn in Le Havre, France, and they stop briefly in Paris before returning together in Venice.
In Venice, Mason and Kahn rent the large central room of a palazzo on the Giudecca. During the winter they live and paint in one small room that can be heated.
Mason and Kahn marry in March at the municipal building near the Rialto Bridge. In the spring, the couple travels to Rome to visit friends Gretna Campbell, as well as Louis Finkelstein in Frascati and Lee Bontecou in Trastevere. Mason’s paintings earn her a second year of the Fulbright grant.
Mason and Kahn spend April in Greece before spending another summer in Venice. In November, Mason and Kahn set off for the United States, stopping first in Paris and then in Spain. In Madrid, they visit the Prado Museum. After a pause in Granada, they depart for New York City from Gibraltar.
Mason’s brother Jonathan disappears in Portland, Oregon, and after many months his body is found in the Puget Sound.
Mason and Kahn return to his loft on Broadway and 12th Street. They spend the summer on Lambert’s Cove on Martha’s Vineyard, and in September, Mason gives birth to their daughter, Cecily, in New York City.
At the end of the year, Mason joins Area Gallery on 10th Street, an artist-run space. In addition to helping run the gallery and plan exhibitions, members painted the gallery, up-kept maintenance, and foraged for wood to keep the pot-belly stove working in the colder months.
Mason spends February to May 1960 in San Francisco, California, where Kahn takes his first teaching position at the University of California, Berkeley. They return to Martha’s vineyard in the summer, and in late October, to New York City.
Mason’s first solo exhibition opens at the Area Gallery in 1960 and includes canvases and works on paper she completed in Venice.
The summer of this year is also spent in Deer Isle. Mason returns to Italy in the fall with Kahn, who had won a Fulbright grant, and their daughter Cecily. They settle in Milan for the winter.
In the spring, the couple moves to Canepina, Italy. In the fall, they leave for Rome, where they rent their friend Lucio Pozzi’s apartment on the Via Flamminia near the Piazza del Popolo.
In March, Mason and Kahn’s daughter Melany is born in Rome, Italy.
The family returns to the United States from Italy. The summer and the next are spent in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard in a house that had been the home of Leslie Miller, a nineteenth-century artist.
Mason and Kahn move to a new apartment on East 15th Street. Their Broadway loft is now used only as a shared studio.
In the spring, Mason and Kahn purchase a hillside farm on eleven acres in West Brattleboro, Vermont. Mason uses the combined blacksmith’s shop and chicken coop as a studio space and begins a routine of working there during summers.
Emily’s mother, Alice Trumbull Mason, passes away in June following alcohol-related complications.
In April, Mason and her family travel to Kenya, visiting Nairobi, Samburo, Lake Navasha, Malindi, Lamu Island, Kikurook, and Marsabit in the north.
Mason’s father, Warwood Mason, dies in February.
An exhibition of Mason’s work opens at the Landmark Gallery, New York, Two more follow in 1978 and 1981.
Mason moves her studio out of the shared loft space on Broadway to West 20th Street. It is the important milestone of her first independent studio. In the fall, Mason begins teaching at CUNY Hunter College, where she will continue to teach for more than 30 years. Mason is awarded the Ranger Fund Purchase Prize by the National Academy.
A solo exhibition opens at Grace Borgenicht Gallery in New York City. The Borgenicht Gallery shows Mason’s work again in 1987, 1990, and 1992.
Mason is commissioned to produce a print by Associated American Artists, Mason discovers carborundum in printmaking.
Mason and Kahn travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico to work at the renowned Tamarind Institute where she creates an edition as well as a series of monoprints and monotypes.
Mason continues her experiments in printmaking, creating two series of monotypes at the Garner Tullis Workshop in Santa Barbara, CA.
Mason becomes a member of the MB Modern Gallery in New York City and exhibits there in 1997, 1999, and 2001.
Mason becomes a member of David Findlay Jr Fine Art, New York at Louis Newman’s invitation after the MB Modern Gallery closes.
Mason has solo exhibitions at David Findlay Jr Fine Art and the Flynn Gallery in Greenwich, Connecticut.
An exhibition of Mason’s prints is shown at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in Venice, Italy, and an exhibition of her paintings opens at the LewAllen Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Mason’s first monograph, Emily Mason: The Fifth Element, is published by George Braziller Press, featuring a comprehensive presentation of her career.
A solo exhibition of Mason’s prints and paintings opens at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center in Vermont, and exhibitions of paintings at the Ogunquit Museum in Maine and David Findlay Jr Fine Art.
Emily Mason has a solo exhibition at LewAllen Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Contemplating Color, a traveling exhibition organized by LewAllen Galleries, is shown at LewAllen Galleries in Santa Fe and at The Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi.
Emily Mason: The Light in Spring is published by UPNE. Predominantly a follow-up to to The Fifth Element, the monograph highlights works completed in the last decade, as well as Mason’s works with five master printers.
Mason begins exhibiting at Ameringer|McEnery|Yohe (now Miles McEnery Gallery) in New York.
Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City 1952-1965 opens at the Grey Art Gallery in New York featuring work Mason had shown with the Area Gallery in the 60s.
Emily Mason: To Another Place opens at the Brattleboro Museum of Art in Vermont.
Color/Gesture: Early Work by Emily Mason, an exhibition featuring Mason’s early works on paper, opens at the Bennington Museum.
Mason has her second exhibition at Miles McEnery Gallery in New York.
Mason and Kahn are each awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Arts from Marlboro College in Vermont.
Emily Mason passes away in Brattleboro, Vermont on December 10th and is laid to rest on the hill behind her house. Mason passed away in December.
Mason is honored as Centurion Master by the Century Association and is provided space for a survey of her canvases and works on paper.
“She Sweeps with Many-Colored Brooms”: Paintings and Prints by Emily Mason opens at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT.
Chelsea Paintings, a post-humous, historical exhibition featuring work made by Mason in her loft studio opens at Miles McEnery Gallery, New York. Mason’s work and legacy is represented by Miles McEnery Gallery to the present-day.