Pen and ink on paper, 12 x 16 3/4 inches
Signed, dated, titled
Being sold for the benefit of the Ben Uri Museum, London
Marthe Szostakowsk Hékimi (Polish 1884-1950)
Born in Łódź, Poland, Marta Szostakowska pursued an art career despite family opposition, finding art teaching in Poland too traditional. She is documented across Europe from the 1930s, exhibiting paintings at Galerie Jeanne Bucher-Myrbor, Paris in 1936; with Max Bill’s Allianz group in the Kunsthaus, Zurich in 1942, and with Ben Uri in 1947, in a two-person show with Sophie Korner. The Ben-Uri catalogue states that Hekimi felt “an artist of the 20th century should not copy nature”. After marriage to an Iranian diplomat posted to the United Nations, Abel Hassan Hékimi she lived in Geneva, Paris, London and Tehran, and there is evidence of her travel from France to New York.
In 1947 she presented her drawings to Albert Barr, Director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and although the meeting and correspondence are recorded in the archives of the museum, the Director did not acquire her work. At this time Mildred Cohen Bettelheim, the first curator of the department of design, was expected to, and did change her last name to “Constantine,” to disguise her Jewishness! We are grateful to the Jewish Historical Institute, Poland (Żydowski Instytut Historyczny) for providing Hékimi’s biographical details.