Oil on canvas, 28 x 30 inches
Framed to 34 1/2 x 36 1/2 inches
Inez Helen Seibert Brooks (1914–1987)
Helen Seibert was an exemplary modernist. Her earliest studies were at the Oberteuffer School, learning to draw well, and to compose. After marriage at 22 to Charles Van Wyck Brooks, two years her junior, the son of the great literary lion of New England Van Wyck Brooks (1886-1963) the couple explored Europe close to the outbreak of war, 1937-38. With introductions to literary and artistic geniuses, including Braque, Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and her circle, Mondrian and Picasso. Back in New York she was associated with An American Place, Alfred Steiglitz’s nursery of American modernism. At Duncan Phillips’s suggestion she was, for an incredibly fruitful year the only student of Arthur Dove. In 1940 Helen and Charles moved to California, staying a while at Mabel Dodge’s salon in Taos, New Mexico. They eventually settled in Marin County where Helen would create unique modernist and post-cubist masterpieces. She was only 35 years old in 1949 when she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, untreatable at the time. Her career was filled with promise–she had exhibited in a major museum –a 1946 group show at the San Francisco Palace of the Legion of Honor.
Against this tragic personal background and a brief career, Siebert nevertheless figures importantly in the history of arts and letters in the United States. Her sophisticated aesthetic achievement and fresh synthesis of abstraction and figuration were accomplished well before the dawn of the1950’s on the West coast.