Ida Kohlmeyer

Known as one of the most distinguished abstract painters of the American South, Ida Rittenberg Kohlmeyer (American, 1912–1997) began her artistic career late in life. Born in New Orleans to Polish immigrants, Kohlmeyer studied English Literature at Tulane University, where she received her BA in 1933. Her interest in painting did not manifest until 1947, when she began attending the McCrady Art School. She later earned her MFA from Tulane’s Newcomb College in 1956. After graduating, she traveled to Massachusetts to take classes with Hans Hofmann (German, 1880–1966), where she became highly influenced by Abstract Expressionism.(artnet)

Pursuing her interest for art in her thirties, Ida Kohlmeyer went on to create brilliant works strongly influenced by the Abstract Expressionist style. Her oeuvre includes printmaking, drawings, paintings, and sculpture. Kohlmeyer struggled to break from the artistic influences of the first generation Abstract Expressionists such as Hoffman, Rothko, and Miro who she so strongly admired. Her personal style did not develop until the 1970s. This style is characterized by her use of grids to develop geometric abstractions produced through automated gestures. Her geometric pictographs were seen as series of signs that could only be read visually, whether or not this was her intention. During this period she was most well-known for her Clusters series. It wasn't until the 1980s that Kohlmeyer's style shifted to Synthesis painting, a less rigid, geometric style with a greater emphasis on color. The success of her compositions was heavily reliant on her drawn line and mark-making. 

Kohlmeyer did not begin sculpture until late in her life. Her sculptures were often made of Plexiglas, wood, and cloth. These works appear to be related to her paintings and are defined by their more fluid line, bright colors, and almost biomorphic shapes. Kohlmeyer relied on the elements of line and color to produce a large collection of brilliant works with an obvious influence of both Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism and a slightly personal touch.(

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