Gudrun Mertes-Frady - portrait

Gudrun Mertes-Frady

Germany 1939

Abstract Art

Gudrun Mertes-Frady
Gudrun Mertes-Frady
December 7, 2017
Alias of Jasmina Sevic, a researcher and author for Widewalls. She graduated from the Faculty of Political Science (Department for Journalism) in Belgrade in 2013.

Gudrun Mertes-Frady is a New York-based abstract artist whose work blends geometric structure with intuitive, painterly explorations of color and line. Mertes-Frady was born in Cologne, Germany. She studied painting and art history at the Cologne Academy of Fine and Applied Arts.

Gudrun Mertes-Frady - Start Ship, 2015
Gudrun Mertes-Frady – Start Ship, 2015. Oil and metallic pigments on canvas. 121.9 x 127 cm


Mertes-Frady shifts her practice between painting and drawing. Her processes for the two are quite different. Her drawings manifest quickly and intuitively as she applies multiple layers of Conte crayon, graphite, charcoal and metallic crayon to hand-made sheets of Japanese paper, such as Kozo (made from mulberry trees) or Gampi (made from the gampi bush). Her work on mylar evolves over a longer period of time. Using a mixture of ink and water-based media, she creates layered, expressionistic, abstract compositions, often using both the front and back of the semi-translucent surface in order to add dimensionality and depth.

Her paintings are all oil on canvas, linen and sometimes wood panel. She frequently includes pigments of aluminum and graphite. This metallic media becomes activated by ambient light, creating a kinetic effect when the work is viewed from different angles. (All the white appearing lines in some of her paintings are actually metallic oil paint and change from soft grey to a luminous silver.)

Gudrun Mertes-Frady - Moon Palace, 2014
Gudrun Mertes-Frady – Moon Palace, 2014. Oil and metallic pigments on canvas. 152.4 x 160 cm


Raised in a family of architects, Mertes-Frady learned early on to appreciate the visual language of the grid. Her background led her to appreciate the structure of paintings by Constructivist artists like Malevich and Bauhaus artists like Mondrian. Throughout her career she has experimented with many different mediums and techniques, but has always relied on the geometry of the grid for stability. Even her more lyrical, “all-over” drawings are underpinned by an architectonic arrangement of space.

Despite their structured appearance, however, Mertes-Frady never plans her compositions in advance. She is inspired by instinct and intuition. By freeing herself to react in the moment to arbitrary choices about color, texture, and line, unexpected and beautiful contrasts are allowed to develop between the architectonic structure of the work and its painterly spirit.

Gudrun Mertes-Frady - Manhattan II, 2011
Gudrun Mertes-Frady – Manhattan II, 2011. Oil and metallic pigments on canvas. 76.2 x 78.7 cm

Relevant Quotes

In an essay about the work of Mertes-Frady, acclaimed art journalist Lilly Wei writes,

Her work continues to radiate a light… illumination that is almost seasonal, from reticence of a pale wintry day to the glow of spring, the glare of summer to more sombre casts, the sensation shifting from a crystalline delicacy to a slow sonorous rumble….There is also what lies beneath, which comes up like pentimenti: history, genealogy, archaeology, traces that are both process and poetics.

Gudrun Mertes-Frady - Dancing Yellow, 2010
Gudrun Mertes-Frady – Dancing Yellow, 2010. Oil and metallic pigments on canvas. 152.4 x 160 cm

Exhibitions and Collections

Mertes-Frady has had more than 20 solo exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe. Her work is in many public, private, and corporate collections, including that of Rockefeller University, Universal Music, The Busch Reisinger Museum, Gwynneth Paltrow, the American Embassy in Dubai, and many others.

She has lived and worked in New York City since 1981.

Featured image: Gudrun Mertes-Frady – portrait
All images courtesy of the artit and IdeelArt

YearExhibition TitleMuseum/GallerySolo/Group
2018Garrison Art CenterGarrison Art Center, Garrison, NYSolo
2016Gudrun Mertes-FradyKathryn Markel Fine Arts, Bridgehampton, NYSolo
2016Metalpoint and GraphiteCynthia Reeves, Walpole, NHGroup
2015Gudrun Mertes-FradyCynthia Reeves, MASS MoCA Way, North AdamsSolo
2015August GeometryMaria Wood Gallery, Atlanta, GAGroup
2015Art in EmbassiesBandar Seri Begawan, BruneiGroup
2015Sideshow Nation IIISideshow Gallery, BrooklynGroup
2015PaperazziJanet Kurnatowski Gallery, Brooklyn, NYGroup
2014Gudrun Mertes-FradyMichael Trierweiler Contemporary Art, Weimar, GermanySolo
2014Paper ShowJanet Kurnatowski Gallery, Brooklyn, NYGroup
2014Sideshow Nation IISideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, NYGroup
2013Gudrun Mertes-FradyMark Wolf Contemporary, San Francisco, CASolo
2013Sideshow NationSideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, NYGroup
2012Paper BandsJason MCCoy Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2012UnknownKentler International Drawing Space, Brooklyn, NYGroup
2012Mic : CheckSideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, NYGroup
2011UnknownMark Wolf Contemporary, San Francisco, CAGroup
2011Divergent AffinitiesWexler Gallery, Philadelphia, PAGroup
2010Gudrun Mertes-FradyPiquion+Trierweiler, Weimar, GermanySolo
2010Gudrun Mertes-FradyART Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, GermanySolo
2009Gudrun Mertes-FradyMaud Piquion, Berlin, GermanySolo
2009Gudrun Mertes-FradyCynthia-Reeves, New York, NYSolo
2008Nuture Art BenefitJames Cohan Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2008Small Works Show80 Washington Square Galleries, New York, NYGroup
2007Gudrun Mertes-FradyReeves-Contemporary, New York, NYSolo
2007Gudrun Mertes-FradySpheris Gallery, Hanover, NHSolo
2007UnknownReeves-Contemporary, New York, NYGroup
2007Here is New YorkUniversity of California, Berkley, CAGroup
2006Here is new YorkChicago Cultural Center, Chicago, ILGroup
2005Gudrun Mertes-FradyReeves-Contemporary, New York, NYSolo
2005UnknownSpheris Gallery, Hanover, NHGroup
2005Here is New YorkMuseum of Modern Art, New York, NYGroup
2004Here is New YorkMartin Gropius-Bau, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2003Gudrun Mertes-FradyRosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, New York, NYSolo
2003A Common ThreadHennepin County Government Center, Saint Paul, MNGroup
2003Here is New YorkLes Recontres d’Arles, Arles, FranceGroup
2002Gudrun Mertes-FradyRosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, New York, NYSolo
2002Here is New YorkCorcoran Gallery, Washington, DCGroup
2001SynopsisRosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, New York, NYGroup
2001Art 2001e1 Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
2000Gudrun Mertes-FradyRosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, New York, NYSolo
2000Sun SignsRosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, New York, NYGroup
2000(Un)ResolvedRosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, New York, NYGroup
1999Gudrun Mertes-FradyRosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, New York, NYSolo
1997Gudrun Mertes-FradyRosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, New York, NYSolo
1996UnknownArt Initiative Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1995Gudrun Mertes-FradyRosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, New York, NYSolo
1994Gudrun Mertes-FradyStephen Rosenberg Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1994Summer SolsticeStephen Rosenberg Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1993Cadavre ExquisThe Drawing Center, New York, NYGroup
1993UnknownStephen Rosenberg Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1992Gudrun Mertes-FradyGalerie Lommel, Cologne-Leverkusen, GermanySolo
1991The Tenth SummerStephen Rosenberg Gallery, New York, NYGroup