IRENE MONAT STERN, Untitled, c. 1960

$38,000

Acrylic on unprimed canvas, 51 x 74 inches

SKU: GX4837 Category: Tag:
Description

Irene Stern (Polish-American 1932-2010)created luminous and elegant paintings that evolved out of her early work in watercolor, a progression evident in the almost liquid flow of colors across large compositions. In these works, tones melt together and “veils of pigment appear to fold over one another, creating illusory creases and hollows.”  The overall affect is one of slow, powerful visual rhythms. Stern’s semi-translucent, gossamer colors billow across her surfaces, soaking into the unprimed canvas to create tactile fusions of paint and support that envelope the viewer in diaphanous veils of paint.  Stern’s pure abstract forms call to mind the stained canvases of Morris Louis and Helen Frankenthaler, but her work embodies a unique elegance that differentiates it from that of her color field contemporaries. Where Louis harnessed the power of gravity to pull his pigments down the canvas and Frankenthaler very deliberately pushed her paints around, Stern’s colors seem to grow and blossom organically across the composition. These blooms of pure color manage to be simultaneously serene and dramatic as they radiate warm, earthy tones.

Responding to an exhibition at San Francisco’s Source Gallery in 1975, one critic meditated on the relationship between Stern and Morris Louis:

“… technique is all they share; the statements both artists make about the nature of paint differ. Louis’ stains and pours often follow the force of gravity, so that paint appears to be drawn by its own pull towards the periphery of the canvas. Stern, on the other hand, makes acrylic seem weightless. It floats on white pristine canvas. It masses into rich areas with a spatial depth that Louis’ works lack. It is forced onto the surface in many directions by an energy source beyond the paintings’ edges.”

Irene Monat was born in 1932 in Poland and survived the Holocaust at a very young age. She moved to Paris in 1948, and then to New York in 1954. There she met the accomplished abstract sculptor Jan Peter Stern, whose large public commissions can be seen throughout New York City and across the country, and the couple married the next year. While in New York, Stern took art courses at the New York School for Social Research, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The Sterns settled in Southern California in 1965where both careers flourished; the couple had a supportive artistic relationship and often exhibited together. Irene’s painting activity dwindled beginning in the early 1980s, as she became more and more essential as a caretaker after her husband’s Parkinson’s diagnosis. She cared for him exclusively for the last 25 years of his life.

Irene Stern’s work has been exhibited at the Source Gallery, San Francisco; The American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York; Ester Robles Gallery, Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Brandt Library and Art Museum, Glendale; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and was collected by individuals, corporations, and museums such as the National Gallery, Joseph H. Hirshhorn, G.E. World Headquarters, and First National City Bank. Stern’s paintings can presently be found in the collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.

EXHIBITIONS

American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York

Downtown Gallery, Honolulu, Hawaii

Esther Robles Gallery, Los Angeles

San Diego Museum of Art

Additional Space Exposé IV, Los Angeles County Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Art Lecture Series, “Into the ’60s”

Brandt Library and Art Museum, Glendale, CA

Source Gallery, San Francisco

PUBLICATIONS

Life Magazine, 3.24.1972

Artweek, 5.31.1975, “Looking at Irene Monat Stern……”

CORPORATE COLLECTIONS

General Electric World Headquarters, Fairfield, Conn.

Financial Federation Corporate Offices, Los Angeles

Welton Beckett Associates, San Francisco

Great Western Corp., Executive Headquarters, Los Angeles

United California Bank, Hollywood

Hilton Corporation, Executive Headquarters, Beverly Hills

Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Headquarters

First Federal Savings Association, Thousand Oaks, CA

Coldwell Banker Investment Manager Co., Los Angeles

First National City Bank, International Office, Los Angeles

Mica Corporation, Los Angeles

ABC, West Coast Headquarters

RAND Corporation

Atlantic Richfield Corporation

Wells Fargo Bank

Cutler and Pickering, Washington, D.C.

Banco Interacional de Sao Paolo

Fluor Corporation, IBM, New York

PRIVATE COLLECTIONS

Quincy Jones

Kurt Meyer

William Pereira

Marvin Smalley

Dewitt Smith

Sharf Sumner