Artist Duo

Creative Couple

To celebrate the positive effect of engaging with art — as creators and viewers alike — we founded m+w art & design. We create art to enhance your lived environment aesthetically and experientially. Art that offers a respite, or inspires a moment of contemplation, of openness to new ideas and new possibilities. Art that invites the viewer to continue the creative journey begun by the artist. To bring our art directly to collectors, with the highest quality, value and attention to detail, we launched our own online gallery and shop.

The art presented here is the original work of artist duo, Maryann Berté and Wolfgang Schwarz. They produce each artwork in limited editions of the highest archival quality, hand signed and numbered by the artist. They work with careful consideration for detail throughout their creative process, from the artists’ work in the studio, to the materiality they choose for each artwork, to how you as collector and viewer can engage with the finished piece in your space.

A rare partnership, the married couple are life, business and creative partners. “We are a couple who share a love of life, an endless fascination with the universe, and with the possibilities and challenges of our human journey through it. We’ve shared our lives together since the 1980’s. Blending our diverse skills and education, we’ve realized our desire to work together since the 1990’s. We established and have run our multidisciplinary design studio, bigbang, together for decades. Now, it is time to share the artwork we have been creating outside the parameters of client projects.”

Artistic Practice

Artist duo, Maryann Berté and Wolfgang Schwarz work freely across a variety of media — combining traditional drawing and painting with digital and photographic methods — to create abstract artwork. Their artistic practice integrates aspects of abstract expressionism, minimalism and Asian calligraphy, to produce images that draw us in to slowly explore their subtleties and intricacies.

Our art investigates connections, interactions and relationships, both material and metaphorical, with a focus on the creative act. Works often begin with Maryann drawing or painting at a small scale with the intimacy of writing a journal entry. “In this space I find an immediacy which is liberating. Working in a meditative mode — calm, quiet mind, deeply focused — the desire to control yields and underlying ideas, connections and possibilities are free to find form. Improvisation and intuition lead the action as I engage with the materials and allow images to emerge.” This may comprise a singular gesture, or a gradual amassing of marks and shapes, but this phase of the work is always completed in one unbroken sitting.

After their initial creation Wolfgang captures the images to digital files. Then we set them aside. Later with a fresh eye, we return to them together to investigate the details of their visual language in the digital realm. We uncover the story within — sometimes focusing in on one aspect, or fragmenting parts of the whole, layering elements, or exploring color, but without altering the original marks and gestures themselves. The final artwork often takes on a scale much larger than the intimate space where it originated. A scale that celebrates the grandeur to be found in a small detail — referencing the richness present in the simplest moments of life. A scale that invites the viewer inside the work, into the creative act, to discover their own insights and story.

Quality & Materials

Museum-Quality Archival

All of our artwork is made-to-order and handcrafted one piece at a time. Each piece is meticulously produced — printed, mounted and framed — using museum-quality archival materials and methods in a climate controlled facility in New York City.

Composed of fine art pigments, archivally rated to resist fading and discoloration for 100 to 400 years, each image is printed on archival fine art paper, cotton canvas or Belgian linen. Using the most advanced large scale digital equipment for fine art, we carefully test print and proof each image before the final artwork is produced. We work directly with the Master printers and craftspeople at Laumont Studio, who have deep experience and a focus on conservation grade work for renowned museums, galleries and fine artists here in NYC and around the world. Kept in proper conditions, your museum-quality archival artwork will last for generations!

Art on Fine Papers

We use fine art papers from some of the most respected and long established manufacturers of paper in the world. Handcrafted from natural plant fibers and pure spring or mountain water, they blend the best of centuries old tradition with technical innovation to produce paper of the highest quality and archival rating for fine arts. They also use sustainable and environmentally respectful practices, working in harmony with the rich natural environments where they have produced paper for centuries — the mountains on Shikoku Island in Japan, and the rolling uplands of Lower Saxony in Germany. The papers we use are acid free, lignin free and use no optical brighteners. From the rich texture of Hahnemühle’s Museum Etching paper (a heavy gauge 100% cotton-rag) to the graceful semi-translucence of Awagami’s Kozo (a traditional Japanese mulberry fiber paper), we carefully select papers with qualities that harmonize perfectly with the art images they support.

Our art on paper uses fine art pigments with the highest archival ratings. The print process and materials we use produce an image with rich tactile beauty that can resist fading or discoloration for centuries. The surface of the artwork is delicate and must be properly handled and protected. For this reason, all of our works on paper are archivally mounted, framed and protected behind an acrylic face. We use Conservation Clear® acrylic — an acrylic glaze preferred by leading museums and galleries for its superior properties: 99% UV protection, lightweight, shatter resistant, and distortion-free for beautiful viewing clarity.

All artwork arrives ready to hang! Art on paper is signed and numbered by the Artist to the back of the paper or permanent mount board. To view signature, lift the hinged door of the “signature window” on the back of the finished artwork.

Art on Premium Canvas

We use museum-quality archival canvas made from 100% premium Belgian linen or 100% pure cotton duck — the highest grades of quality available. Our carefully curated range of canvases from Artfix in Provence and Simon Liu in Brooklyn provide the perfect support for each artwork series.

Our Belgian linen canvas, in fine and extra-fine weights, is handcrafted using exceptional quality Belgian flax with the longest natural thread for fewer knots. Extremely tightly woven and strong, it features a smooth, refined surface with a distinctive structure characteristic of linen. Our cotton duck canvas, in fine and medium weights, is also tightly woven and uses the highest quality cotton fiber for a uniformly textured surface. All of our raw canvas is carefully prepared by hand, according to time-honored fine art methods. The linen starts with two layers of specially formulated acrylic sealant to isolate and protect each fiber. Both linen and cotton are then primed with two to four coats of acrylic, evenly applied by hand in thin layers to the rack-stretched canvas, allowing for slow drying time between applications. This exacting process creates a stable, durable and luminous conservation grade surface to support the art.

Our art on canvas is printed using a UV cured process that instantly bonds archival fine art pigments to the primed canvas for an image with exquisite detail. Additionally it provides excellent protection from both abrasion and UV light damage to produce artwork that, when properly kept, will last century after century. The UV print process is also highly energy efficient and ecologically friendly.

Art on canvas is signed and numbered by the Artist directly to the back of the canvas. Canvas is finished either as an unframed gallery wrap or is float framed. All artwork arrives ready to hang!

Handcrafted Frames

Our frames are custom made by hand for each artwork. We use North American hardwood, sustainably sourced from regulated forests in New England and Appalachia which are properly managed by forest stewards.

Meticulously handcrafted in maple wood by the team of skilled craftspeople we work with, each frame is built with perfectly mitered corners and sturdy splined joins. Then an elegant satin finish in a choice of black-painted, white-painted, or the natural maple wood completes the frame. Artwork is mounted and set into the frame — a process our expert team handles using archival materials and methods every step of the way, to protect the quality and ensure the longevity of your artwork.

Our frame profile, with slim face and deep sides, makes an elegant, modern statement while focusing attention on the art itself.

Art on paper is set in a shadow box style frame. The art is interior float mounted on archival museum board, and sits away from sides and back from the UV protective acrylic face.

Art on canvas is finished in one of two ways.
Unframed Gallery Wrap — a clean minimalist look. Canvas artwork is stretched onto a hardwood poplar support frame with neatly wrapped sides and corners — no tacks or fasteners visible, just clean canvas sides.
Float Framed — an elegant finished look. The gallery wrap canvas is set in an elegant hardwood maple outer frame — centered but positioned slightly away from the sides for the appearance of floating within the frame — in a choice of black-painted, white-painted, or natural maple wood.

Special Details

Elegant Wall Mount System

All of our artwork arrives ready to hang with a wood strainer & French cleat hanging system. This elegant, minimalist system gives the appearance of the artwork floating on the surface of the wall. There are no D-rings, no hanging wires, no tilting or unintentional shifting, just a clean, elegant aesthetic with sturdy support for your artwork.

The wood strainer — an inner frame built into the back of the artwork — provides added strength to the outer frame and support to the mounted artwork. The French cleat — a wood mounting bar — interlocks with the beveled edge of the strainer, and distributes weight evenly across the length of the frame. The cleat is first securely mounted, level and flat against the wall at the desired height. Then the artwork simply slides onto the cleat, and can easily be adjusted left or right for perfect positioning.

Even our unframed gallery wrap option for art on canvas arrives ready to hang with this mounting system — the canvas is stretched onto a hardwood support frame, custom made with beveled edges and an interlocking French cleat for wall mounting.

Engage and Interact

You, as viewer and collector, are invited to continue the creative journey begun by the Artist. Whenever we view a work of art we do this to some degree. But we invite you to take the interaction a step further by choosing and changing your perspective as viewer, and by exploring the art in varied context with other works from the art series.

Many of our abstract artworks are created by the artist to be experienced from multiple points of view — each revealing its own statement and energy. They can be hung in a vertical, horizontal, or inverted orientation. We’ve specially designed our frame and hanging system for maximum versatility with a 4-way beveled strainer and cleat. To quickly and easily change the orientation of the piece, just slide the artwork up and off the cleat, carefully rotate to the new position, and slide it back onto the cleat. The artist also signs to the back, not front, of the artwork to accommodate this versatility.

Additionally, by curating pairs or groups of artwork from a series, you can explore and vary the contextual relationships of the art images. Here too, our custom framing system makes it possible to arrange and rearrange your selection of artwork with ease. We hope you will join in the creative conversation and enjoy collecting, exploring and building your own visual statement!

Custom Crated for Shipping

The care we take with each piece of art we create, extends to expertly preparing it for a safe journey to you. The most reliable way to protect artwork in transit is with a custom wooden crate. All m+w artwork being transported via shipping company travels this way.

Once your finished artwork has been approved and signed by the artist, it is carefully wrapped and packaged in a sturdy cardboard box. Then a crate, made with premium plywood and cushioned with a lightweight foam lining, is custom built to the dimensions of your packaged order. The packaged artwork fits neatly into its custom crate. Only then, professionally protected for the journey, is your artwork ready to go.

Orders being sent to an address in the New York City metro area can most often be delivered to you directly from our production facility at Laumont Studio. In this case a wooden crate is not used, since your carefully wrapped and packaged artwork is handled only by Laumont’s experienced art delivery team all the way from the studio to you with no transfers.

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