Ida York Abelman
February 12, 1908- December 30, 2002.
A highly regarded Social Realist, Ida Abelman is renowned for the graphic work that she produced for the various Federal Art Projects in New York during the Depression. Her etchings and lithographs of that period depict the difficult living conditions endured by many of the city’s population. Besides the human content, Abelman ‘s work contains influences of Surrealism and Constructivism, sometimes incorporating elements associated with the city into her designs. These would include the patterns from elevated train tracks, the Brooklyn Bridge and subway systems as well as the people directly affected by their surroundings. In the tradition of the Constructivists, her work often reflects a machine aesthetic, combining machine parts with human or organic forms where their presence conveys both the positive and negative consequences of a mechanized society.
Her art training included the National Academy of Design, Grand Central Art School, College of the City of New York, Hunter College, all New York City.
In addition to her graphic output, Abelman completed two murals for the Federal Art Projects, “Lewiston Milestones” in Lewiston, Illinois and “Booneville Beginnings” in Booneville, Indiana, both extant. She also worked in water-based mediums such as watercolor, gouache and tempera.
She was a member of the American Artists Congress and produced twenty- three original lithographs for the FAP, many of which are now in museum collections.
Her exhibition history included: Whitney Museum of American Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York City; M.H. De Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco; New York Federation Art Gallery, New York, 1938; The 48 States Mural Competition, 1939; Philadelphia Art Alliance; Berkshire Museum, and numerous others.
Her work is in the permanent collections of The Library of Congress; Art Institute of Chicago; Baltimore Museum of Art; Detroit Institute of the Arts; Greenville Museum of Art, Greenville, NC; University of Kentucky Art Museum; Allen R. Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville; Newark Art Museum; University of Oregon Museum of Art; Portland (Oregon) Art Museum; Philadelphia Museum of Art; St. Louis Art Museum; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The University of Michigan Museum of Art; Walker Art Center; Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota and several others.
Ida Abelman is included in the following publications:
Seaton, Elizabeth G., editor, Paths to the Press: Printmaking and American Women Artists 1910-1960, Mariana Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Ks, 2006
Arnold, Lauren, editor, The Federal Art Project: American Prints from the 1930’s, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, 1985. Work used as cover for the catalogue.
Francey, Mary, American Women at Work, Prints by Women Artists of the Nineteen Thirties, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, 1991
Mann, Richard G., Politics in Prints, Political and Social Images from the University of Oregon Museum of Art, 1991.
Graphic Works of the American 30’s a Book of 100 Prints Chosen and Exhibited by the American Artists Congress, DaCapo Press, NY, 1977
Beall, Karen F, American Prints in the Library of Congress, A Catalogue of the Collection, The Johns Hopkins Press, 1970
Adams, Clinton, American Lithographers, 1900-1960, the Artists and Their Printers, University of New Mexico Press, 1983
Compiled by David F. Martin.