Early life and education
Heilmann was born in San Francisco, California, in 1940. She studied at the University of California at Santa Barbara (1959 – 1962), San Francisco State University (1963) and the University of California at Berkeley (1963 – 1967). She has lived and worked in New York City since 1968.
Heilmann moved to New York City after graduating from Berkeley in 1968. Early in her career, Heilmann became interested in pop culture and minimalist sculpture, creating works which were inspired by these areas. Her move into painting saw her further experiment with new techniques and mediums, bright colors, drips, flatness, and unusual geometries. The West Coast has always proved a strong influence on Heilmann's work and this can be seen in almost all of her works to-date. She is respected among her fellow painters, and has been called "one of the most important abstract painters of her generation". Her work has been the subject of many exhibitions since 1970. Heilmann received the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation Award in 2006 and has also received the National Endowment for the Arts the Guggenheim Foundation award. and the BACA Award, 2012. 2012
In 1970 she performed in her first New York solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art Resource Center. In addition to solo exhibitions at Secession in Vienna (2003), the Camden Arts Centre, London (2001) and at the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (2000), she has participated in important exhibitions such as The Broken Mirror ' at the Kunsthalle Wien (1993/94) and 'nuevas abstracciones' at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid (1996). In 2007 she was part of an exhibition at the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach (CA), which travelled to the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in Houston Texas, the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus Ohio and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.
In 2013 Heilmann exhibited at the Kunstmuseum Bonn, 'Mary Blinky Yay' and Neues Museum Nürnberg, 'Mary Heilmann. Good Vibrations', two shows which directly followed her 2012 exhibitions at Bonnefantenmuseum, 'Mary Heilmann. Good Vibrations', Maastricht and Hauser & Wirth London, 'Visions, Waves and Roads'.
- Schreier, Christoph, Gronert, Stefan (eds.), 'Mary Blinky Yay!', Cologne: Snoek Verlagsgesellschaft, 2013 (exh.cat.)
- Kienbaum, Jochen, 'Mary Heilmann. Seeing Things. Vision, Waves and Roads', Cologne/DE: Snoeck, 2012
- Paula van den Bosch, Angelika Nollert (eds.), 'Mary Heilmann. Good Vibrations', Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2012 (exh. cat.)
- Myers, Terry, 'Mary Heilmann: Save the Last Dance for Me', Afterall Books, 2007
- Armstrong, Elizabeth; Burton, Johanna; Hickey, David, 'Mary Heilmann. To Be Someone', New York NY: Prestel Publishing 2007 (exh. cat.)
- Secession (ed.), 'Mary Heilmann. All Tomorrow’s Parties', Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2003
- "Mary Heilmann." Art21. PBS, 2012
- Hauser & Wirth,' Hauserwirth.com'
- Samet, Jennifer. "Wild, Punk and Slightly Off-Kilter: An Interview with Mary Heilmann." Hyperallergic RSS. Hyperallergic, 12 Jan. 2013. Web. 
- Myers, T.R. ' ' Mary Heilmann: Save the Last Dance for Me' '. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007, ISBN 978-1-84638-031-0.
- Siegel, Katy; Bey, Dawoud; Weatherspoon Art Museum; American University (Washington, D.C.); Museum; National Academy of Design (U.S.) (2006-01-01). High times, hard times: New York painting, 1967-1975. New York: Independent Curators International : D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers. ISBN 1933045396.