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 Quita Brodhead  (1901 - 2002)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania/Delaware      Known for: portrait and mural painting, abstraction

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Marie Berl is primarily known as Quita Brodhead

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Ad Code: 3
Quita (Mrs. Truxtun R.) Brodhead
from Auction House Records.
Untitled 1960
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
An instructor of painting at Bryn Mawr College and long-time active in the Philadelphia area art community as a portrait and abstract painter, Quita Brodhead was honored in 2001 with a special exhibition by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for her centennial birthday. The show traced her career from representational portraiture to abstract imagery.

Brodhead was born in Wilmington, Delaware. She studied in Paris at the Academy de la Grande Chaumiere and with Alexander Archipenko. She entered the Pennsylvania Academy in 1919 and left the school in 1925 when her chief mentor, Arthur Carles, departed. Her career began in 1929 when she was commissioned to paint the murals of St. John's Episcopal Church in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. She returned to the Academy from 1935 to 1950 to serve on the Board of Fellowship.

Brodhead was born with the name Marie Waggaman Berl but changed her name to Quita as a result of her father calling her Mariequita--Little Marie.

She was married to Truxtun Read Brodhead, and had three children and then divorced. She died on September 4, 2002 in Bryn Mawr.

Source:
Obituary in The New York Times, 9/19/2002

Biography from The Cheryl Newby Gallery:
Quita Brodhead
(1901 – 2002)

“Ms. Brodhead is quite simply a phenomenon”
The New York Times, 2001

Marie Waggaman Berl was born in 1901 and raised in Wilmington, Delaware. Her father nicknamed her “Mariequita” – “Little Marie” -, to distinguish her from her mother whose name was also Marie. She shortened that nickname to Quita as an adult. In 1919, when Marie graduated from a convent school, her mother insisted that she go to a Catholic college in Washington D.C.  But Quita didn’t want to go to another religious school. They compromised, and Quita went the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (“PAFA”) and commuted from her parents’ home in Wilmington to Philadelphia.

She studied at PAFA from 1920 to 1925 under the tutelage of artist and teacher Arthur Beecher Carles.  He had studied and painted in France in the 1890s and early 20th century and shared his love of the impressionists and of Matisse and Picasso with his students. Color, form, and line were what the new art was about. Carles became Quita’s mentor and inspired her to paint the way she did.

In the summer of 1923, she traveled to Paris and painted at the Acadamie Julian and La Grande Chaumiere. On her return, she continued studying with Carles through 1926, and in 1927, she studied with Alexander Archipenko in Woodstock, NY.

In 1927, she married Truxtun Brodhead and moved to Wayne, Pennsylvania. She gave birth to three children and suffered through an unhappy marriage that ended in divorce. In the 1930s and 40s, she had shows in New York City and throughout the Philadelphia area. Later she would paint in Paris, Rome, Southern France, and Tenerife in the Canary Islands. She had more than 20 solo exhibitions and multiple group shows in major cities in Europe and the United States.

Her paintings are found in the permanent collections of more than twenty major museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Woodmere Art Museum, New Jersey State Museum, Delaware State Museum, and the State Museum of Pennsylvania.

She never ceased to be inspired by new discoveries, new scientific theories, and changes in the world around her. Through the decades, she segued from figurative work, still lives and portraits to Abstract Expressionism. She was inspired by the Space Program and the Hubble Telescope to launch her "Endless Circle" and "Whence and Where to" series. Well into her nineties, she told an interviewer "I am always interested in the next surge of things to come."

In 2001, celebrating her 100 birthday, PAFA hosted an exhibition “Quita Brodhead Paintings 1920 – 2001”, and The Hollis Taggert Gallery in New York City presented “Quita Brodhead – Celebrating a Century”. At the conclusion of the Hollis Taggart show, Grace Glueck, senior art critic for The New York Times said, “The gifts of long life and the talent to live it rewardingly do not go to many. Ms. Brodhead is quite simply a phenomenon”.

She was a 20th century woman whose art evolved as the century unfolded. An exhibition at the Cheryl Newby Gallery of Quita Brodhead paintings is the first since her death in September 2002.

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