Hedda Sterne: Against the Abstract Expressionist Tide


51gDMWNuYnLOn the 4th of August 1910, Romanian-Jewish artist Hedda Sterne was born as Hedwig Lindenberg in Bucharest. Sterne is remembered as the only woman present in the Life magazine “Irascibles” photograph taken by Nina Leen in New York on the 24th of November 1950. The article in which the picture appeared documented the Abstract Expressionists’ protest against the conservatism of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and practically gave birth to the term “Irascibles” to describe a ‘dissident’ group of 18 prominent abstract expressionists of the day, including Pollock, Kooning, Newman, and Rothko.

In a 2003 interview with Sarah Boxer, Sterne said, “I am known more for that darn photo than for eighty years of work. If I had an ego, it would bother me. Plus, it is a lie. Why? I was not an Abstract Expressionist. Nor was I an Irascible.” (Sarah Boxer, ‘The Last Irascible’, The New…

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