Viewing Room Main Site
Skip to content

Hedda Sterne, visionary and endlessly experimental Romanian-American artist, was born in Bucharest in 1910. She attended classes in the Paris ateliers of André Lhote and Fernand Léger and at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in the late 1920s and early 1930s. In 1929, she began studying philosophy and art history at the University of Bucharest. She produced a variety of mixed media works on paper and collage invoking Constructivism and Surrealism while living again in Paris from 1932 to 1939, leaving France that year to return to Bucharest before the outbreak of the Second World War. In 1941, Sterne traveled across war-torn Europe departing for New York City, where she established a studio on East 50th Street and became close friends with Peggy Guggenheim, who in 1943 began exhibiting Sterne’s work. In 1948, she received the first of many solo exhibitions with Betty Parsons Gallery. A self-proclaimed “well working lens,” Sterne continuously sought new ways of interpreting the world around her, shifting from urban landscapes, interiors, and machinery in the 1940s, atmospheric space and organic shapes in the 1950s, open spaces and horizons in the 1960s, the face and the figure in the 1970s, prismatic abstractions in the 1980s, and graphite and pastel abstractions on paper in the 1990s and 2000s. She died peacefully in her home in New York City at age 100 in 2011.

Her work has been the subject of museum and gallery exhibitions, such as Hedda Sterne, Galleria dell' Obelisco, Rome, Italy (1953); Hedda Sterne Retrospective, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ (1977); Hedda Sterne: Forty Years, Queens Museum, New York (1985); Paintings by Hedda Sterne, Vassar College Art Gallery, Poughkeepsie, NY (1956); and Uninterrupted Flux: Hedda Sterne; A Retrospective, Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL (2006).

Sterne has been included in recent and significant exhibitions, such as Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2017); Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2018); Crossroads: Carnegie Museum of Art’s Collection, 1945 to Now, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA (2018-2021); and The Whitney’s Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2019).

Sterne is represented in museum collections around the world, such as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, MA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; The Menil Collection, Houston, TX; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

She was awarded a Fulbright fellowship in Painting (1963) and the Childe Hassam Purchase Award of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters (1971) and the Hassam and Speicher Purchase Fund Award of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, both New York (1984). She was awarded Chevalier, Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, by the Ambassade de France aux États Unis, New York (1999).

The artist has been represented exclusively by Van Doren Waxter since 2015.