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Modern and Contemporary Art
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Artist: Hedda Sterne, American, born Romania, 1910–2011


ca. 1953

Oil and spray paint on canvas

30 3/8 in. (77.2 cm)
Gift of Susan Morse Hilles
Hedda Sterne fled to New York in 1941 after narrowly escaping a massacre of Romanian Jews in Bucharest. In the 1950s, the artist depicted her new surroundings in various abstract paintings. In these canvases, the structure, speed, and motion of the city are invoked in abstract, overlapping forms that seem to be in continuous movement. Here, the dynamic lines of the painting are enhanced by the round (tondo) format of the painting. Paintings like these demonstrate the active role that Sterne played in the dissemination of Abstract Expressionism. Indeed, in 1950 Life magazine named Sterne one of the best artists under age thirty-six, recognizing her innovative style. (Many publications had wrongly listed her birth year as 1916, an error she only corrected much later.)
Not on view
20th century

Frauke V. Josenhans et al., Artists in Exile: Expressions of Loss and Hope (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2017), 23, fig. 8.

Frauke V. Josenhans and Cynthia Schwarz, “”The Importance of the Spaces ‘Inbetween’ in Painting”: A Close Look at Hedda Sterne’s Artistic Process,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2019): 24, fig. 3.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.