Friday, August 01, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Irascible Hedda Sterne

Hedda Sterne , another "who's-(s)he-type" artist, was born Hedwig Lindenberg in Bucharest, Romania on August 4, 1910. She studied art in Bucharest and Vienna before becoming a full-time artist. A short-lived marriage, in 1932, to Fritz Stern gave her a new surname to which she added an extra "e". As with many other painters of her generation in Europe, she was forced to leave in order to survive. She narrowly escaped a roundup and massacre of Jews at her apartment building. She fled Bucharest for New York, in 1941. She quickly gravitated to a burgeoning avant garde group of artists there, met fellow-Romanian artist/cartoonist Saul Steinberg. They married in 1944. They separated in 1960.

Her work is diverse, and never middle-of-the-road. Paintings wander between ....well take a look below.

Ms Sterne died in April 2011, aged 100. There are obituaries available on the net - this one from The Guardian.
Hedda Sterne is famous for being the only woman in Life magazine's group portrait of abstract expressionists....

(Jackson) Pollock was in Nina Leen's group photo of 1951, of course, along with Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Barnett Newman, William Baziotes, Adolf Gottlieb, Willem de Kooning and half a dozen others....The group photograph had comical consequences, though Sterne did not get many laughs from it. She had arrived late for the session and Leen pushed her to the back of the group, where she stood on a table. Her apparently black coat in the monochrome photograph stands out against the arrayed grey suits and ties, and her position made her the apex of the group, strikingly beautiful above the frowns of the men. "You paint just like a man," the male artists used to josh her ("that was supposed to make me die with being pleased"), but after the photo, she said, they hated her....A New York Herald Tribune critic dubbed the group the irascible 18, shortened to the irascibles (three of them missed the photo session), because they had written an open letter protesting against the perceived conservatism of the Metropolitan museum. Neither the name nor the issue stuck around for long. Sterne said it was a lie anyway so far as she was concerned. She was neither an abstract expressionist nor an irascible.

... Sterne was always searching. "She had many ways. Most artists just have one way to go."But she was a woman, and as the Mary Astor character complains in the John Huston movie of The Maltese Falcon: "I got a raw deal." Lee Krasner had to struggle to make a name as a painter without being tied to her husband, Pollock, and so did Elaine de Kooning. Sterne simply refused to play the game. She was a brilliant painter, an abstractionist on and off but not wholly committed to it – which was oblivion in critical and fashion terms in the 1950s – and never an abstract expressionist.

As far as I can tell, no astrologer has taken a look at her natal chart - so I shall do so. Without a time of birth a 12 noon chart has to suffice.

Born 4 August 1910 in Bucharest, Romania.

Her Sun and Mercury/Mars in Leo for sure, Moon possibly there too, if born later than noon, otherwise her natal Moon would have been in Cancer, which I suspect might be the case from photos of her in her younger years.
Neptune and Venus were in Cancer; Pluto in late Gemini rounds off the focused summer-sign planet cluster.

Ms Sterne was nothing if not focused, in her determination to do her own thing amid a drowning wash of male painters! What underlines this aspect of her personality, for me, is the Yod (Finger of Fate) linking Pluto to Mercury/Mars by sextile, then both to Uranus by quincinx aspect. Gemini intensified by Pluto and linked to its ruler Mercury, aiming for communication in Uranus (avant garde) fashion! For me, that's Hedda Sterne's astro-signature. For artists (and all people) of her generation Neptune and Uranus were in opposition, Ms Sterne's natal chart managed to draw them into a more complex, and focused (that word again), configuration.


 Feminine Character

 The Bare Square



 Antro II

 Machine 5

Machine 5 is an outstanding example of what Sterne has called her "anthropographs," images of machines with human-like qualities that she painted from the late 1940s through the early '50s. The concept of the anthropographs stemmed from Sterne's observation on arriving in the United States that the American landscape was more surreal than any surrealist invention. She was intrigued by the idea that human beings, possessing an insatiable desire for consumption, make machines that unconsciously serve as portraits of their own inner needs. Most likely inspired by a New York City construction site, the abstract and impossibly top-heavy industrial equipment in Machine 5 undermines any notion of conventional function. The vibrant red background detaches the machine from any setting. At once whimsical and frightening, it has come to life, with multiple eyes wide open and jaws ready to devour. (See HERE)

 Metaphores and Metamorphoses

 Self portrait

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mike said...

In agreement with the yod. Her Moon is is just before a new Moon...the balsamic Moon, which in my experience, yields a personality that is more inward and contemplative, yet very strong-willed. She has Jupiter inconjunct Saturn, with the Neptune-Uranus opposition at the midpoints, which further compounds her yod with additional focus, but probably added a zest to eccentricity. I wouldn't want to get on her "wrong side", plus I'm sure she didn't hold back when agitated with her Mercury-Mars conjunction.

I'm not overly fond of her work, but I can certainly appreciate her work toward co-introducing the modern. I grew-up in that era and modern art, home furnishings, buildings, etc, screamed of modern as the public embraced it and broke from the geometry of art deco after WWII. It was everywhere and I fatigued of it. I've always had an attraction for the more solidness that predates that era.

BTW - I'm envious of your temperatures. Looks like the cold front will fizzle just north of here...maybe a few showers, but not much relief. We are in extreme drought here, more within my local area. Reservoirs are about 35% capacity, stage 2 drought alert, but citizens continue to water their greenery on their chosen day to do so...we are probably using MORE water, as everyone feels they had better get it while they can...LOL.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Thanks for the additional astrological pointers. Yes, I bet she was a pretty (in both senses) strong-minded character - best not to cross her too often. :-)

I don't dislike her paintings, but find them a wee bit "delicate". I too prefer works of previous eras... or of current artists such as Michael Parkes and Michael Cheval.

Temps have dipped a bit, since mid-week here, into the 80s, but humid. We haven't had as many 100+ days this year (yet), as in past few years, and more thundery rain than for the past 3 years - but still nowhere near enough to get us out of drought - we are on stage 3 water restriction with stage 4 threatened (no watering outdoors at all) this month.