Mary Ann Unger was my mom. She passed away in 1998 when she was 53 and I was 16. Dad organized her work and set the estate up with a strong foundation, especially when he hired Allison Kaufman as the estate director, a fantastic artist and incredible working partner. In 2010 Allison and I started working closely together to promote Mary Ann’s work. We partnered up with Davidson Gallery in 2011. Since my mom died, we've placed her work at the Hirschorn and the Weatherspoon and, working with Davidson Gallery, we've placed works at the Whitney Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Sheldon Museum, and numerous private collections.
Mary Ann Unger was a celebrated sculptor who died from breast cancer in 1998 at the age of 53. Best known for her large scale works evoking the body, bandaging, flesh, and bone, her oeuvre also includes small bronzes, works on paper and public art commissions.
The Mary Ann Unger Estate was founded in New York City in 2008 to further the understanding and appreciation of Ms. Unger’s artwork. The Estate facilitates the ongoing placement of Ms. Unger’s work in museums and private collections and exhibits a rotating selection of Ms. Unger’s works.
“(Her) works occupied a territory defined by Eva Hesse and Louise Bourgeois. But the pieces combined a sense of mythic power with a sensitivity to shape that was all their own, achieving a subtlety of expression that belied their monumental scale.”
- Roberta Smith, from the obituary in The New York Times, 1999
"The Mary Ann Unger Estate is delighted to present selections from the artist’s monumental 1992-94 work Across the Bering Strait, a singularly ambitious example of early installation art that has not been on public view since 2001. Each over ten feet long, the individual works are comprised of post-and-lintel-like forms, recalling prostrate human bodies and reminiscent, the artist suggested, of the traditional Pietà. She described the work as a meditation on migration: across continents, through history, and within individual lives—a topic with urgent resonance today.
Coming of age in the late 1960s, Unger described her work as post-minimalist, combining the serial practices of minimalism with an interest in organic form, gender, and the body—issues with which, as a 1970s-era feminist, she was deeply engaged. While she undertook many public art projects and worked extensively on paper, her sculptural work stood at the heart of her practice. Across the Bering Strait represented a breakthrough to a new phase in her artistic development, but it ultimately it proved to be a valedictory work, for she died in 1998 at the age of 53."