Published: February 25, 2016
NEW YORK CITY — A woman ahead of her time, Anna Walinska (1906–1997) enrolled in the Art Students League at the age of 12 and subsequently created more than 2,000 works on canvas and paper over nine decades. Celebrating Women’s History Month, a selection from this vast portfolio titled “Anna Walinska’s New York” will anchor a new exhibit, “Celebrating 100 Years of Women Painters” at The Union League Club, 38 East 37th Street, March 3–31.
Born in London and raised in New York City, at age 19 Walinska went to Paris where she lived around the corner from Gertrude Stein, studied under André Lhote and spent time with Poulenc and Schoenberg at the center of the modernism movement.
The show includes a robust representation of Walinska’s styles and techniques, beginning with her oldest known work, “The Family,” 1918, a watercolor she painted while studying at the Art Students League. At the other end of the spectrum is “New York Collage,” 1980, where Walinska layers colorful elements onto an earlier abstract black and white canvas. Other notable works include a number of self-portraits painted throughout her lifetime, and two depictions of her younger sister in “Portrait of Emily,” 1930 and 1961.
Rosina Rubin, Walinska’s niece and co-curator of the show said, “I’m grateful for the opportunity to shine a light on my aunt’s amazing talent.”
With creative talents beyond painting, in the WPA era, Walinska founded a gallery on 57th Street, and gave Arshile Gorky his first solo show in New York. She served as assistant creative director of the Contemporary Art Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Included in the show is an ink on canvas titled “Parachute Jump,” 1945, a ride that debuted at the 1939 World’s Fair and subsequently moved to Coney Island.
Walinska’s 1950s diary of a six-month journey in a prop plane now resides in the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution. It features stories about her adventures with journalist Joseph Alsop, Burmese Prime Minister U Nu, and many other writers, artists and diplomats.
Walinska’s work was exhibited and collected at venues, including a solo retrospective at the Jewish Museum in New York, 1957, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts, the Salon des Independents in Paris, the Marie Harriman Gallery in New York City, and in numerous exhibitions with the American Artists Congress, the Federation of Modern Painters & Sculptors and the National Association of Women Artists.
The exhibition at The Union League Club, will also include work by Florence Robinson (1874–1937), Margery Ryerson (1886–1989), Marie-Louise Rouff (b 1932), Meg Mercier, Nancy Rutter and Katie Engberg.
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