Home > Art > Uninterupted Flux: Iconic Artist Hedda Sterne Dies at 100

Uninterupted Flux: Iconic Artist Hedda Sterne Dies at 100

April 13, 2011

“I took it for granted that art is essentially an act of freedom. You react to the world totally freely. I met many artists in New York who believed progress is linear, from figure to abstract. In my work I never followed that idea.” (from the Joan Simon interview)

When there were very few places at the table of mid-century modern artists, Hedda Sterne made a place for herself. I am new to Sterne’s work, but find her moving, interesting, and iconic.

The photo is from Life Magazine in January 1951, entitled “The Irascibles” , Sterne stands at the back implacable among the testosterone laden group. She had her own style and my reference to mid-century is strictly to place her in a time frame.

“Sometimes I react to immediate visible reality and sometimes I am prompted by ideas, but at all times I have been moved, to paraphrase Seamus Heaney, by the music of the way things are. (One can find secret significance at the depth of the ordinary.) I believe that simplicity is an invention of man. Nature is never simple. And, the habit of careful study of the visual immediate opens our eyes to the presence of mystery in the seemingly obvious. In art the retinal, intellectual, and spiritual necessarily collaborate, alternating in importance. Art is essentially revelatory. The desire for clarity drives us….

“And through all this pervades my feeling that I am only one small speck (hardly an atom) in the uninterrupted flux of the world around me.”

– Based on a conversation with Sarah Eckhardt, May 30, 2004.


Photo details: 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. Photo by Nina Leen in Life Magazine, January 15, 1951.

I Highly Recommend Nancy Natale’s two outstanding posts:

Art in the Studio – Who Was That Woman, click here

Art in the Studio – Hedda Sterne Part II, click here

New York Times Obituary, click here


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