Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Obit du jour: Hedda Sterne

Which of these things is not like the other?

I loved this picture accompanying the obituary of artist Hedda Sterne who died at 100. It's a 1951 photograph from Life magazine of Abstract Expressionist artists who had sent "a notorious open letter to the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1950 accusing it of hostility to 'advanced art.'”

I don't know who all the other artists are in the picture, although Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning are among them. What struck me in the obituary was that Sterne, according to the obit, "never developed a marketable artistic signature." Emphasis on "marketable." "Her frequent stylistic changes, reflecting an exploratory bent, made her an elusive figure."

I love Mark Rothko, but I can see how his work could become a parody of itself, and how no one would want to buy it if it suddenly and completely changed. The thing I love about this obituary is the sense of a woman always striving, always exploring; how fearless she was. I also get the sense of fame as a curious master, and that one's level of fame may have as much to do with one's tolerance of it as one's worthiness of it.

1 comment:

it's margaret said...

That photo is GREAT! Maybe Doug could identify some of the other artists...