Margaret Kennedy | Lightscapes

Eerdmans is pleased to present Lightscapes, a new collection of Margaret Kennedy’s abstract oil paintings and the watercolor landscapes that inspired them.

As its title suggests, Lightscapes sees Kennedy extract the sense of light (as well as color and pattern) she captures en plein air in her watercolor landscapes—which are finished works in their own right—and reinterpret such qualities in the studio to create luminous, large-scale abstract paintings.


September 29-November 10, 2022


14 East 10th Street
Between 5th Avenue and University Place
New York, NY

The relationship between the two formats is sometimes conspicuous, sometimes a suggestion. “In the landscapes, out in nature, I’m finding the light for the abstracts,” Kennedy says. “The feeling of stillness on the water, the patterns of the tide—these qualities of the landscape are present in the abstract.”

In the abstract works, which measure up to 5 feet by 6 feet and are installed over two floors of Eerdmans, Kennedy’s approach to color and composition recalls twentieth century icons from Helen Frankenthaler and Kenzo Okada to Richard Diebenkorn and Mark Rothko. Kennedy adds aluminum leaf to many of the oil-on-canvas pieces, imbuing their placid expanses with movement and electricity, echoing the free-form freneticism of Cy Twombly and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

That flicker of aluminum leaf? That’s what was happening in the water.” 

In June, Kennedy was selected (for a second time) to take up residency in the artist Fairfield Porter’s former home on Great Spruce Head Island, Maine, and avail herself of the same scenic source material Porter made a name depicting, from the area’s boat-dotted bays to its spruce-filled woods. The resulting watercolors can be seen in Lightscapes. The abstract works, on the other hand, were painted in Kennedy’s two studios, one in The Bronx and one near her home in Westport, Massachusetts.

Many of the abstracts bear the hallmarks of pentimento. Kennedy explains, “Each piece begins with a color and develops through the relationship of one color to another. Most often I keep adding colors and shapes and it gets over-complicated. Then I simplify, but without totally obliterating what came before, with evidence of the underpainting in the layers of the finished work.”

Lightscapes also features nearly two dozen smaller abstract landscapes, measuring from 5 inches by 7 inches to 9 inches by 12 inches and set in gilded framing, a juxtaposition for which Kennedy cites Francis Bacon as inspiration.

Kennedy (b. 1941) graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, majoring in art, with studio classes conducted at the School of the Worcester Art Museum. She then studied at the Art Students League of New York and the National Academy Museum & School of Fine Art (now the National Academy of Design). Her work has been exhibited and won prizes in group shows in New York City; Battenville, New York; Little Compton, Rhode Island; and Westport, Massachusetts.

In addition to her fine art achievements, Kennedy has led a highly successful career in interior-design magazine publishing, having served as Design Editor at House & Garden and, for 19 years, as Editor of House Beautiful. Her background at the intersection of art and design makes her a natural fit to exhibit at Eerdmans.