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 Lynne Mapp Drexler 

(American, 1929-1999)

Bonhams Lynne Drexler

Lynne Drexler

Play of Color | Curated by John Kenneth Alexander


Bonhams is pleased to present Lynne Drexler: Play of Colour, a private-selling exhibition, on public view in New York from 27 March – 14 April, and online through 19 May. The exhibition, which features 29 works by the American painter, is curated by gallerist and art consultant John Kenneth Alexander, a longstanding champion of the artist. 

Lynne Drexler

From the Drexler collection of John Legend and Chrissy Tiegen

Lynne Mapp Drexler, HER WAY
free online version catalog


A mysterious figure within the history of the Abstract Expressionist movement of the '50s and '60s, Lynne Mapp Drexler holds a special place among artists who were present during the pivotal moments of the post-war art world, yet were intentionally ignored and purposefully forgotten. Like other talented artists who were well trained by the era's finest teachers, Drexler was a member of the New York School and a participant in America's first major art movement. Abstract Expressionism had become renowned for the mythos and machismo of artists such as Jackson Pollock, a figure who had come to dominate the image of the movement and reinforce its aggressive "masculine" characterization. Drexler, like many women of the '50s and '60s, were often eclipsed by their male counterparts. Even though their work was executed with as much competence and training, women tended to be disregarded in the male-dominated gallery scene of New York. The recent resurgence of interest in Drexler and other women like her has brought many of these artists out of the shadows with a new sense of discovery and appreciation. Drexler's legacy had been a footnote in the pages of art history as an artist who abandoned the art politics of New York in favor of a more genuine life on a remote island. She would later stoically remark, "I was not on the political fast track. I cannot make friends for gain." Drexler may have left the center of the art world, but through the hard times and difficult choices, ultimately, she did it her way.



Southern-born Lynne Mapp Drexler found her artistic voice during one of the most exciting and significant art movements of the 20th century. Born in Newport News, Virginia, in 1928, Drexler began her study of art as a child. Her parents, who were very supportive of both the visual and performing arts, enrolled Drexler in various art courses. After attending the College of William and Mary, Drexler became interested in contemporary art. She was encouraged to explore this venue by her uncle, who had ties to the Hudson River School of painting, and by some of her more influential teachers.


After moving to New York in 1956, Drexler immersed herself in the world of Abstract Expressionism studying with Hans Hofmann in both his Provincetown and New York schools. It would be Hofmann's work as a colorist and his theories on color that would be one of Drexler's most significant influences. She eventually went on to study with another well known artist and teacher, Robert Motherwell, at Hunter College. His intellectual views on Abstract Expressionism guided Drexler's own process of creating art. Her academic training from Motherwell, along with the lessons of color theory from Hofmann, would set the foundation for the style of painting for which she is known. Drexler's swatch-like patterns and painterly blossoms of color are quite unique when compared to her contemporaries of the Abstract Expressionist genre. By 1961, Drexler would have her first solo show at the Tanager Gallery.

Drexler married John Hultberg in 1961. The couple began summering on remote Monhegan Island in Maine, where she had the opportunity to work and sketch outdoors. Back in New York during the winter these sketches were re-imagined into luxurious and colorful abstract paintings. While in New York, she would frequent the opera and sketch during the performances. Drexler's affinity for nature and music became intimately intertwined into her work.


Drexler moved permanently to Monhegan Island, where she lived the last 16 years of her life. Drexler exhibited extensively throughout her life at venues such as Tanager Gallery, Esther Robles Gallery and Westerly Gallery.

The first major posthumous exhibition of Drexler's work ran at the Monhegan Museum and the Portland Museum of Art in 2008 and 2009. Other major exhibitions include Thomas McCormick Gallery in Chicago and Amar Gallery in London. In 2020, the first comprehensive gallery retrospective exhibition of over 50 works from the late 1950s to the mid-1980s was presented in the groundbreaking solo exhibition Her Way. This exhibition marked the fourth Drexler exhibition produced by J. Kenneth Fine Art in California.


Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, ME
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, ME

Greenville County Museum, Greenville, SC
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY
Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC
Monhegan Museum, Monhegan, ME
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME
Provincetown Art Association Museum, Provincetown, MA
Queens Museum, Queens, NY
Tamarind Institute, Albuquerque, NM
University Museum of Contemporary Art, Amherst, MA



1961 Tanager Gallery, New York, NY

1965 Esther Robles Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

1967 Nuuana Gallery, Honolulu, HI

1970,71,72,73 Alonzo Gallery, New York, NY

1983 Aldona Gobuzas Gallery, New York, NY

1989 Judith Leighton Gallery, Blue Hill, ME

2003 Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, ME

2005 Greenhut Galleries, Portland, ME

2008 Lynne Drexler, Painter; Monhegan Museum and the Portland Museum of Art, ME

2010 Lynne Drexler, Early Spring; McCormick Gallery, Chicago, IL

2015 Lynne Mapp Drexler, Post-war Paintings 1957 to 1965; J. Kenneth Fine Art, Palm Springs, CA

2018 Lynne Mapp Drexler, Paintings of the 50s & 60s; J. Kenneth Fine Art, Palm Desert, CA

2019 Lynne Mapp Drexler, Small Wonders; J. Kenneth Fine Art, Palm Desert, CA

2020 Lynne Mapp Drexler, Her Way; J. Kenneth Fine Art, Palm Desert, CA

2022 Lynne Drexler, The First Decade, Berry Campbell & Mnuchin Gallery, New York, NY

2023 Lynne Drexler: Play of Color, Curated by John Kenneth Alexander, Bonhams, New York, NY

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