Hedda Sterne – Untitled – 1985-90
I am mesmerized by her work. Amazingly, this 100-year old artist (born in Romania, studied Art History and Philosophy in Bucharest, then drawing in Léger’s atelier in Paris before emigrating to New York) who was at some point a kind of muse to the Abstract Expressionists managed to keep her independence from art movements and never let fashion dictate her work. She was abstract before abstraction was so much in vogue, she painted American machines during the heyday of Abstract Expressionism, then turned really abstract when Pop Art “was debunking” abstraction. I would very much like to see her white on white works, done when she was about ninety years old and almost blind.
I read a very interesting article by Sarah Boxer on the NYRB, The Last Irascible. It has a lot of interesting descriptions of Hedda Sterne’s formative years, of her relationship to Rothko, to Barnett Newman, and to her husband for 16 years, Saul Steinberg, the author of the famous New Yorker cartoon with the view of the world from a New Yorker’s perspective. Reading it made me want to check her work carefully.