Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Happy 100th Birthday, Hedda Sterne!

Today, August 4th, is the 100th birthday of Hedda Sterne, a pioneering artist who happened to be a woman. Congratulations, Hedda, on reaching this milestone and thank you for paving the way for those of us who are women and want to be taken seriously as artists.

Hedda Sterne in the 1950s as photographed by Margaret Bourke-White. (Image from "Uninterrupted Flux: Hedda Sterne," a catalog of a retrospective of Sterne's work, published in 2006 by the Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, edited by Karen Hewitt, exhibition curated by Sarah L. Eckhardt. Most of the images in this post are from this catalog.)

I have written about Hedda's work and career earlier in this blog, as follows:
Who Was That Woman, April 1, 2009
A Virtual Connection Made Real, March 8, 2010
Hedda Sterne: Part Two, March 11, 2010

I hope you will take a look at these earlier posts because they try to summarize Hedda's very interesting life and career.

My interest in Hedda began when I was writing my long series of posts on Rothko back in March and April 2009. I came across the famous Life Magazine photo of "The Irascibles" and became curious about the only woman in the picture. That photo has haunted Hedda throughout her life and become her most enduring public image. Through my posts, I tried to publicize other images of Hedda that portrayed her as the serious and independent-minded artist she was.

Photo by Nina Leen published in Life Magazine in 1951. 
L to R: Theodoros Stamos, Jimmy Ernst, Barnett Newman, James Brooks, Mark Rothko, Richard Pousette-Dart, William Baziotes, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Rotert Motherwell, Bradley Walker Tomlin, Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlied, Ad Reinhardt, Hedda Sterne. The protesting artists were termed "The Irascibles."

Last February, during the unusually heavy snowstorm that New York received, I met Hedda's niece Veronique Lindenberg, a resident of Paris who was in New York visiting Hedda. During that meeting where Veronique, my friend Binnie Birstein and I had lunch, Veronique very kindly presented me with a copy of the now out-of-print catalog of Uninterrupted Flux, Hedda's 2006 retrospective exhibition at the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois. Having the catalog meant a great deal to me because I could see the range of Hedda's work and get an idea of her accomplishments unrelated to the Irascibles photo.

The catalog from Uninterrupted Flux

While Hedda's body has been subject to the infirmities of her great age, her mind and spirit remain strong. I hope that you will join me in congratulating her on her birthday and thanking her for pursuing a unique artistic path during her long life. Veronique is with her in New York and has told me that she will read birthday wishes to Hedda, so if you would like to pass those along, please add your comment to this post.

Hedda Sterne, about 1963-65, photograph by Theodore Brauner, from the Uninterrupted Flux catalog.


Binnie said...

Happy Birthday Hedda! Veronique, enjoy your visit together. It was wonderful getting to meet you. All best wishes, Binnie

Terry Jarrard-Dimond said...

Happy Birthday Hedda! I'm sending you my appreciation for your talent, courage and determination in pursuing your passion.

Anonymous said...

Warmest regards on your 100th birthday! I think that it's time I get to know your work.

Unknown said...

Nancy, I have known of Hedda and her work for years, but did not realize she was still alive and 100!! This is a marvelous post.

Rebecca said...

Thanks for the great post, Nancy and I wish you the happiest of birthdays, Hedda!

Kimberly said...

Happy 100 (WOW!) Birthday!

Thank you so much for being such a wonderful role model.
wishing you all the very best!

Portland, Maine

Rachel Scott said...

Happy Birthday Hedda! Thank you for your commitment to following your own path and for sharing your work and ideas with us. You are inspirational.

Thanks to you Nancy for such thoughtful and illuminating blog posts!

Warm wishes
New York

Nancy Natale said...

Thanks for commenting, everyone, and sending your good wishes to Hedda.

Leslie Avon Miller said...

Wishing you a very Happy Birthday Hedda. Thank you for blazing a trail for women in the arts.

Joanne Mattera said...

Mazel Tov, Hedda, on a milestone birthday. You have been a groundbreaker and an inspiration and a wonderful artist. To the next 100!

Veronique Lidenberg said...

Thank you all so much for Hedda, I will read her every comment... She's such in a good mood and enjoyed the party with chocolate cake and champain.

Thank you Nancy for your post and bravo for your whole blog...
Lots of love

Patti said...

Ah, dear Hedda, so nice to find this blog, and see those photos. Thank you!

I was also thinking of her on her 100th birthday.
I was Hedda's studio assistant for ten years, in the 1980s, and although I live on the West Coast now, I still visit her when I can. What a rare person, such a beautiful lively intelligence even last June, on the eve of that milestone birthday!
Veronique, if you see this post, will you write to me? It was a pleasure to meet you with Connie, and C. didn't keep your contact information so I never was able to get it from her.
I'd also love to hear from anyone else about thoughts about Hedda's paintings. I have been thinking about her a lot these days. What I loved about Hedda is that she followed her own curious mind and had a great deal of courage in those times to change styles when her interests changed. I learned from her that painting and drawing is a means not to make pictures, but to investigate life with full engagement: to think and question with the pen or brush in hand. She has been a great inspiration to me as an artist and I am so grateful to her.
Patti Trimble

Sue said...

So sad that Hedda has now passed on, along with other pioneering artists who happenned to be women, Dorothea Tanning and Leonora Carrington. They exhibited together at Peggy Guggenheim's NY gallery in the 1940's and all had full creative lives ever after.

Unknown said...

So late to the party but what a joy to discover others who are equally passionate about Hedda