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Excerpts from the 1971 Journal of Rosemary Mayer

Edited by Marie Warsh

Rosemary Mayer (1943–2014) began her career in the late 1960s, experimenting with conceptual art while a student at the School of Visual Arts and as a contributor to the journal 0 TO 9. In 1971, she began to focus on the use of fabric as a primary medium for sculpture, to more actively pursue opportunities to exhibit her work, and to participate in a feminist consciousness-raising group. This was a pivotal period in Mayer’s life and career, and she documented it in remarkable detail in her 1971 journal.

With deep self-awareness and honesty, Mayer reveals herself, at age 28, in the process of committing more fully to life as an artist. In her journal, she records her ambitions and insecurities about her work, as well as her opinions about the art around her. She also chronicles how being an artist was interwoven into all aspects of her daily life, from concerns about money, to hanging out with friends, to being in love. The result is a striking document of the entanglement of art and life and an intimate view into the New York art scene of the 1970s, which, for Mayer, included Vito Acconci, Donna Dennis, Bernadette Mayer, Adrian Piper, and Hannah Weiner, among many others.

Previously published in a limited edition, this expanded edition of Excerpts from the 1971 Journal of Rosemary Mayer includes images of Mayer’s life and work, a new introduction, additional entries, and a list of the books and films she mentions in the journal.

Marie Warsh is a historian and writer. She has co-edited two other books on Rosemary Mayer, who was her aunt. She is also the author of Central Park’s Adventure-Style Playgrounds: Renewal of a Midcentury Legacy (2019).

Praise


Praise for the First Edition (Object Relations, 2016): “In both the exhaustions and the invigorations of Mayer’s tone, the young artist who reads these entries [today] may find a reflection of her own inner and outer debates. . . . The personal, political, and artistic are all on view in Mayer’s writing, reflecting her own poetics of the journal as a genre of everyday experience.”——Phillip Griffith, Brooklyn Rail

“The little uneven crevasses that form throughout the document to which her estate has granted us access are what make it especially satisfying to read, a different kind of historical documentation of how an artist comes to be.” —Thea Ballard, The Nation

“This gorgeous new edition...[includes an appendix] that in many ways encapsulates the project, as it so specifically locates Rosemary in a place and time." —Katie Geha, Art Papers

"The second edition of Excerpts from the 1971 Journal of Rosemary Mayer gives us more of the real stuff: a woman reckoning with herself, her body, her art, her world. As a genre, journals appeal because they let you inhabit, in some small, voyeuristic way, another’s subjectivity. For that alone, this book is a gift to young creatives." —Kate Silzer, Brooklyn Rail

"The dailiness of Rosemary’s life does not obscure the artist, rather, in this new edition with its fifty-six new or expanded entries, the category ‘real artist’ is allowed to transform, turned less to the institutionally legitimised announcement, but to the constant and uneasy imbrication of art and life." —Amy Tobin, Burlington Journal