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Mary Frank

Mary Frank’s love of dance informed her compelling sculptures and paintings, with their focus on the human body in motion. Frank studied dance with the famed Martha Graham from 1945 until 1950 when she married the photographer Robert Frank and switched from dance to art. Her drawings and sculptures reflected elements of both her dance training and her husband’s photographs of the Southwest—stark black figures frozen in mid-movement against pale backgrounds. Early on, Frank sculpted in various media, but she began working in clay in 1969, creating human forms made of disjointed or interlocking pieces, as though the person were rising from the surface of the earth or being assembled out of the air. In 1974 her daughter was killed in a plane crash and a year later her son was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. Frank’s grief showed in her art through a series of busts of young women with closed eyes, wreathed with ferns or flower petals. In the 1980s she switched from sculpting to painting, creating works of vivid color. She has taught as artist in residence at a variety of institutions, and her work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian, among many others.

More on: Painting, Sculpture
Date of Birth
February 4, 1933
Place of Birth

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Mary Frank ." (Viewed on December 14, 2018) <>.


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