New York

Hedda Sterne, Untitled, 1967, acrylic on canvas, 64 × 64".

Hedda Sterne

Van Doren Waxter | 23 East 73rd Street

In Nina Leen’s iconic photograph The Irascibles, painter Hedda Sterne stands on a table behind a group of fourteen abstract painters, all men, who confront the camera with somber expressions. In her coat and hat, with a shiny purse dangling from folded arms, she towers over Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, and the rest. When it was published in the January 1951 issue of Life magazine, the picture bestowed upon the enigmatic Sterne a mythic status. She was posed at a slight remove from the group, her role unclear: Was she a fellow artist or a muse? Despite her extraordinary life and achievements—she studied at the Fernand Léger Studio in Paris, exhibited at the legendary Salon des Surindépendants of 1938, narrowly escaped German-occupied Romania before settling in the US in 1941, showed in New York at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century Gallery and the Betty Parsons Gallery,

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