inspiration

Ann Kendall Richards Nitze

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Ann pictured with the Maharaja of Jodhpur

Art des Femmes is most inspired by the keen eye, intelligence, and glamour of private art dealer, Ann Nitze who founded Ann Kendall Richards, Inc. Fine Art Gallery in 1969.  Ann was classically educated at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, CT, and Radcliffe College in Cambridge, MA. She also attended the Academie Julian in Paris. Ann now spends time between her historic Georgetown townhouse in Washington, DC, her penthouse gallery in New York City, and her home in Aspen, Colorado. In the tradition of great Washington hostesses, Ann loves entertaining visiting dignitaries, ambassadors, artists and curators in Washington and introducing them to the cultural life of our nation’s capital.

 

Ann lived in Japan for five years and during that time, cultivated specialized expertise in the Japanese art market. Ann was a close friend of the late Christo and Jeanne-Claude. She attended many of their large-scale, site-specific environmental art installations.

In addition to her pursuits in the art world, Ann has devoted her life to various educational and art organizations: The Freer and Sackler Museum, the Frick Museum, the World Wildlife, the Venetian Heritage, Casita Maria, the Japan Society, the Santa Fe Institute, the Aspen Institute, the Aspen Music Festival, the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

Ann pictured with Edmund de Waal

Peggy Guggenheim: une grande collectioneuse d'art

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 Tony Vaccaro/Hulton Archive via Getty

The greatest woman collector of abstract and Surrealist painting in the 20th century was the inimitable, Peggy Guggenheim. Courageous, strong-willed, and eccentric, she became the champion of avant-garde art in pre-war Europe and later, during her tenure in New York City, where she founded the famous, Art of This Century gallery on 57th Street. It was here where Guggenheim mounted “Exhibition by 31 Women,” New York’s first exhibition of woman artists, in 1943. Art collector turned art dealer, Guggenheim cemented her position in the art world when she founded the eponymous Venetian museum, in her beautiful 18th-century palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the banks of the Grand Canal Venice, which first opened to the public in 1951.

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Lee Krasner: une peintre formidable 

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Lee Krasner, c. 1938. Unknown photographer.

Background photo credit: freize.com

Lee Krasner (1908-1984) was an American abstract expressionist painter whose work and life changed the world of painting in New York City. Krasner, married to Jackson Pollock in October 1945, was a key figure in the abstraction movement in her own right. From an early age, Krasner knew she wanted to pursue art as a career. She attended the Women’s Art School of Cooper Union, studied at the National Academy of Design, and briefly enrolled in the Arts Students League in New York.

 

In the 1930s Krasner studied under Hans Hofmann and modernized her approach to the nude and still life through working in an advanced style of cubism, known as neo-cubism. Krasner connected early 20th-century art with the latest innovations of postwar America. Her painting style was exceedingly experimental, changing, and evolving throughout her career. In the 1960s Krasner started to paint with bright colors and employed organic, floral shapes in her work. She played a critical role in the New York School of painting as an artist and critic, and furthermore, profoundly influenced the work of Pollack and the renowned art critic, Clement Greenberg. Krasner was one, out of only four female artists, to have been honored with a retrospective show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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 Image credit: artsy.com 

Joan Mitchell: une peintre extraordinaire

Joan Mitchell (1925–1992) was an American "second generation" abstract expressionist painter and printmaker. Along with Lee Krasner, Grace Hartigan, Helen Frankenthaler, Shirley Jaffe, Elaine de Kooning, and Sonia Gechtoff, Mitchell was one of her era's few female painters to gain critical and public acclaim. Her paintings and editioned prints can be seen in major museums and collections across the United States and Europe. Born in Chicago she studied at Smith College and The Art Institute of Chicago, where she earned her MFA in 1950. By the early 1950s, Mitchell was regarded as a leading artist in the New York School. Her paintings are expansive, often covering multiple panels. Her subject matter is primarily influenced by landscapes. Mitchell painted gestural brushstrokes on unprimed canvas or “white ground.” In 1951, her work was exhibited in the landmark “Ninth Street Show” assembled by members of The Club, alongside work by Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Hans Hofmann, whom she briefly studied under. Mitchell moved to Paris in 1959 and later moved west to the town of Vetheuil near Claude Monet’s home in Giverny. Her work was the subject of a major traveling retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 2002. 

Klaus Kertess wrote in the New York Times on the eve of Mitchell’s retrospective: “A passionate inner vision-guided Joan’s brush. Like her peer Cy Twombly, she extends the vocabulary of her Abstract Expressionist forebears. She imbued their painterliness with compositional and chromatic bravery that defiantly alarms us into grasping their beauty.”

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Betty Parsons: une peintre & marchande d'art exceptionelle

Credit: Frieze.com

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Credit: Alexander Gray Associates

Betty Parsons (1900-1982) was an American artist, art dealer, and collector known for her early promotion of Abstract Expressionism. She is regarded as one of the most influential and dynamic figures of the American avant-garde. A native New Yorker, Parsons opened her eponymous gallery at 15 East 57th street in Manhattan, after returning from Paris in 1946, where she studied art at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. Upon returning from her time abroad, Parsons continued her studies and worked at various art galleries in New York City.

 

Her gallery regularly exhibited twelve shows per season. Parsons was the only dealer willing to represent artists such as Jackson Pollock after Peggy Guggenheim closed her Art of This Century gallery and returned to Europe in 1947. The painter, Helen Frankenthaler, who met Parsons in 1950 said, “Betty and her gallery helped construct the center of the art world. She was one of the last of her breed.” Her paintings reside in various collections at the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and many other renowned art institutions.

Background credit: Frieze.com

Meg Braff: une decoratrice extraordinaire 

Everyone who meets decorator “extraordinaire”, Meg Braff wants to be her friend and more importantly live in one of her beautiful rooms. Meg is a Mississippi native who now calls the world her home; she shares residences in New York City, Locust Valley, Palm Beach, and Newport with her dashing financier husband, Doug, and four handsome sons.

Photo by David Land from La Dolce Vita by Paloma Contreras, July 11, 2017

Credit: Meg Braff Interiors; Painting: Across the Pond by Sarah Trundle

If it is possible to “have it all” Meg fits the bill and carries this reality off effortlessly. Meg’s interiors juxtapose traditional design with contemporary abstract art without missing a beat. Meg incorporates contemporary pieces into many of the spaces she designs and has an affinity for color which she employs expertly to create unforgettable and enviable interiors.

Helen Frankenthaler: une peintre magnifique

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Photograph by Alexander Liberman © J. Paul Getty Trust, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2000.R.19)

Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) was a major contributor to the history of postwar American painting. She exhibited her work for over six decades (from the early 1950s until 2011). Born in New York City she studied at the Dalton School under the muralist, Rufino Tamayo and graduated from  Bennington College, Vermont in 1949 where she was a student of Paul Feeley. After returning to New York she studied briefly with Hans Hofmann and Wallace Harrison. She was married to her fellow artist, Robert Motherwell from 1958 until their divorce in 1971. Her painting is identified with the use of fluid shapes, abstract masses, and lyrical gestures often using large formats on which she painted generally simplified abstract compositions. She was included in the 1964 “Post-Painterly Abstraction” exhibition curated by Clement Greenberg that introduced a newer generation of abstract painting that became known as Color Field. Her work has been the subject of several retrospective exhibitions, including a 1989 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

 Background photo credit: awarewomenartists.com 

Anne Bass: une collectioneuse d'art magnifique

When the late Texan philanthropist Anne Bass and her then-husband, Sid Bass moved to New York City in the 1980s they acquired a Rosario Candela Apartment at 960 Fifth Avenue which they spent four years designing with the renowned late-decorator, Mark Hampton. Their apartment was decorated with contemporary works by Agnes Martin, Mark Rothko, Morris Louis, and Claude Monet. The paintings floated on pale beige and grey walls creating magical interiors of elegance and restraint. 

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 Vogue.com; Photographed by Oberto Gili, Vogue, December 1988

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@sampson.nathan

Anne Bass had impeccable taste and possessed a vast knowledge of the history of art and design. She famously commissioned the Bass House, one of the most ambitious residential designs by the modernist architect Paul Rudolph, completed in Fort Worth in 1976 to house their extensive contemporary Art collection. Bass was a lifelong champion of art institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the New York City Ballet, and the New York Public Library. As Andre Leon Talley wrote in 1988, “Perfection is everything to Anne Bass.”

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Alma Thomas: une peintre extraordinaire

Alma Thomas, 1976, photographed by Michael Fischer.

Alma Woodsey Thomas (1891-1978) was a Washington, DC color field artist who explored the power of color and form in luminous, contemplative paintings. She was influenced by nature and her long study of color theory.

Born in Columbus, Georgia, she moved with her family in 1907 to Washington, DC. She was a graduate of Howard University’s newly formed art department in 1924. A decade later, she received a Master’s of Arts degree from Columbia University and during the 50s attended art classes at American University in Washington, DC where she was inspired by Abstract Expressionism and art associated with the New York School of painting.

Her painting style consisted of broad, mosaic-like patches of vibrant color applied in concentric circles or vertical stripes. In 1972 Thomas was honored with a one-woman exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art and at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Her paintings can be found in many renowned private and public art collections throughout the country. In 2014, one of her paintings, “Resurrection” (1966) was acquired by the White House collection. 

“A world without color would seem dead. Color is life. Light is the mother of color. Light reveals to us the spirit and living soul of the world through colors. “

Background image credit: The Smithsonian American Art Museum

Tarsila do Amaral: une artiste visionnaire 

One of the giants of Latin American modernism was the Brazilian painter, Tarsila do Amaral. (1886-1973) Her groundbreaking art, which emerged from early Cubist and Surrealist French influences inspired generations of contemporary Brazilian artists who followed her.

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Image credit: awarewomenartists.com

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Image credit: awarewomenartists.com

Composition (Lonely Figure), 1930, oil on canvas.

Born at the end of the 19th century in the state of Sao Paulo to a prosperous family of coffee plantation owners, she studied piano, sculpture, and drawings in Brazil before departing for Paris in 1920 where she enrolled in the famous art school, Academie Julien. She later studied in Paris with painters Andre Lhote, Albert Gliezes, and Fernand Leger between travels to France and Brazil. They exposed her to Cubism, Futurism, and Expressionism. Her unique style of sensuous, vibrant landscapes and everyday scenes populated with strange elongated and isolated figures emerged from her synthesis of European modern styles into a powerful Surrealist language incorporating Brazilian indigenous forms and subjects.

She was a member of the Grupo dos Cinco which was a group of five Brazilian artists who are considered the biggest influence in the modern art movement in Brazil. As she began to incorporate a Surrealist style into her nationalist style in 1928, she painted Abaporu which inspired the Manifesto of Anthropology (“Antropofagia”) which sought a specifically Brazilian culture to arise from the symbolic digestion or artistic “cannibalism” of outside influences. In 1929, she had her first solo exhibition in Brazil at the Palace Hotel in Rio de Janeiro which was followed by another at the Salon Gloria in Sao Paulo. In 1930, her work was featured in exhibitions in New York and Paris. In 1950, she had an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Sao Paulo. Decades after her death in 2018, MOMA in New York City held a solo exhibition of her work celebrating her visionary style of modernism. It was only their 8th retrospective of a Latin American artist and the only woman artist to hold this honor. 

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Yayoi Kusama: une artiste révolutionnaire

Image credit: theguardian.com

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), the Japanese multi-disciplinary artist is undoubtedly one of the most popular artists in the world inspiring millions to experience her immersing art installations. She defied social conventions at an early age to pursue her desire to become an artist after being born into a traditional Japanese family and later turned the disadvantages of her mental health issues caused by childhood trauma and including adult hallucinations into the seed for her singular aesthetic characterized by her liberal use of polka dots and dense repeating patterns to create a sense of infinity. 

Her art reveals her lifelong fascination with the natural world begun in her childhood spent in the greenhouse and fields of her family seed nursery. After studying the traditional Japanese style of painting, Nihonga, at the Kyoto Municipal School of Arts and Crafts in 1948, she moved to New York City where she quickly established her reputation as a leader of the New York avant-garde scene through the 1950s.  Her organically abstract paintings of one or two colors (the Infinity series) which she began upon arriving in New York, garnered comparisons to the work of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman. Her visual language formed a bridge between Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism. After returning to Japan in 1973, she briefly became an art dealer and novelist. Her painting style shifted to high-colored acrylics on canvas. In 1993 she became the first woman artist to represent Japan at the Venice Biennale with a dazzling mirrored room filled with small pumpkin sculptures in which she resided in color-coordinated magician’s attire. As her career surged important museum shows followed, including a major retrospective in 2011 and 2012 that traveled to the Whitney Museum in New York, the Tate Modern in London, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid. In 2017, a 50 year retrospective of her work opened at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. Also, that same year the Yayoi Kusama Museum opened in Tokyo. 

Background image credit: Ackland Art Museum

Georgia O'Keeffe: une peintre extraordinaire

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was an American artist known for her abstract paintings of magnified flowers and Southwestern landscapes. O’Keeffe became known as the “Mother of Modernism” and achieved the trailblazing status as one of the first global female art stars. She began her studies in 1905 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and continued at the Art Students League of New York and later taught at New York’s Columbia University. 

In 1916 O’Keeffe was introduced to photographer and avant-garde gallerist Alfred Stieglitz with whom she had both a professional and romantic relationship. Her close-up flower paintings showcase a largescale imagery based in nature transformed with a smooth stylized expressionistic abstraction and vivid palette. Discussions of her work are often overshadowed by her gender and supposed inclusion of sexual references which she strongly denied during her lifetime. After living in New York for a decade married to Steiglitz, she began to spend time in the Southwest, where her work took a turning point. She made New Mexico her permanent residence in 1949 after Steiglitz’s death. The New Mexico landscapes inspired much of her famous works such as “Summer Days” (1936) now in the Collection of New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. The artist holds the record for the highest price paid for a painting by a woman when the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art paid $44.4 million for “Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 (1932).”

Image credit: Philippe Halsman (1967) in the Collection of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
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“Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1” (1932)
“Summer Days” (1936)
Collection of the Whitney Museum of Modern Art

Julie Mehretu: une artiste dynamique

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Julie Mehretu (b. 1970) is a contemporary artist whose abstract works present multifaceted views of urban "landscapes" inspired by the experience of her family's displacement from Africa. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, she and her family were forced to flee the country when military leadership began to terrorize the city. Her dynamic "map" drawings and paintings are blended symbols of identity, cultural history, geography, and personal narrative. Her paintings blur the line between abstraction and figuration.
The artist was raised in Michigan after fleeing Ethiopia and later educated in Rhode Island and Senegal. She has lived on and off in Berlin and New York City. In the tradition of  historical art movements such as Futurism and Suprematism, her art, described as a new form of History Painting, draws a link between utopian social structures and non-objective art.  Her work is included in many museums collections including the MoMA, SFMOMA, and The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.
Image: Julie Mehretu at the American Academy in Rome