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 Helen Gerardia  (1903 - 1988)

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Lived/Active: New York / Russian Federation      Known for: hard-edge abstraction, graphics

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Ad Code: 3
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from Auction House Records.
Sculpture on Table #2 (abstract)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information was submitted by Bob Gamse, whose source, with permission, is a document supplied to him by Arts and Industry, a New York Art Gallery, which handled much of the work of the artist's estate.

Helen Gerardia was born in Ekaterinislav, Russia, in 1913, and emigrated to the U.S. sometime in the first or second quarter of the twentieth century. She was a first grade teacher in the New York public schools who turned to art as a second vocation, and achieved exceptional success. She began her study of art at the Art Students League in 1947. She was awarded a two-year scholarship at the Nahum Tschacbasov workshop, and continued her studies with Hans Hofmann at the Hofmann School and Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Gerardia won a watercolor prize at the Village Art Center and had a watercolor show there. By 1951, she received a prize for a work in oil that resulted in an exhibition in this medium at the Center and soon became known for her hard- edged abstraction graphics. Later that year, she participated in her first exhibition held at the 8th Street Playhouse. Following her first exhibition, Gerardia participated in 125 one-man shows, and was collected by 42 major museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which purchased 8 of her graphics in 1963.

Her traveling shows of paintings and graphics were shown in over 150 museums, colleges and art centers in all 50 states. Her works were circulated by the American Foreign Cultural Service, and the Western Association of Museums. She exhibited in 17 countries abroad, and at numerous institutions, including the Stedlijke Museum in Brussels, The Ueno Park Museum in Tokyo, the New Delhi Cultural Center in India, the Pierre Borde Museum in Algiers, the Modem Museum of Art in Brazil and in Canada. She was included in group shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Corcoran, the Smithsonian Institute, National Gallery, Jewish Museum, Pennsylvania Academy, Boston Museum, and the San Francisco Museum.

Gerardia received 42 awards for her paintings and graphics including the Medal of Honor for graphics from the National Association of Women Artists in 1961 and 1964. She made exclusive editions of prints for the Society of American Graphic Artists and Contemporaries. She gave demonstrations at the Norfolk Museum and the Audubon Artists and the National Association of Women Artists. She served as President of the American Society of Contemporary Arts, was an officer for Artists Equity of New York, and served as Vice President of the Society of Painters in Casein. She was a delegate to the U.S. Committee of the International Association of Art and has been Official Observer to the third and fourth Congresses in New York and Tokyo.

Gerardia was represented by the Bodley Gallery (787 Madison Avenue, New York, NY) at the peak of her career in the 1950s. Owned and operated by David Manh, Bodley is best known for their early (1950s) exhibitions of Andy Warhol.

"I have always been interested in the play of light and its effect on form and color. Another quality of light, the prismatic breaking up of color, has always fascinated me. I felt that by placing my color in broken areas I could, in a way, approximate the movement of atmosphere and the divisibility of color."

"I have devoted over ten years of research and work to this field of painting. At first I worked in small areas using many nuances of the same color and achieved what one critic called 'a luminous and unfolding effect'. At this point in my development I feel the need for a broader statement because now my aim in painting is to use this technique which I have developed for the expression of contemporary subjects such as buildings, bridges, and the broad new horizons of outer space."

"To me the education of an artist seems to be the cultivation and intensification of the individual differences inherent in the creative individual. Drawing, composition, design, history, literature, philosophy and mathematics is all grist for the creative mill, and are the treasure upon which the artist draws for inspiration. A visual image or an emotional experience may set off a new endeavor, however, the greater the treasure, the greater will be the imagination of the creative artist and the greater will be the number of facets his work will show."

Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC
Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Museum of the City of New York
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY

Albany Institute of History and Art, NY
Ashtabula Fine Arts Center, OH
Carver Museum, Tuskegee, AL
Columbus Museum of Arts and Crafts, GA
Decatur Art Center, IL
Delaware Art Center, Wilmington, DE
East Central State Museum, OK
Evansville Museum of Fine Arts, IN
Farnsworth Museum, Rockland, ME
Flint Institute of Fine Art, MI
Greenville Museum of Art, NC
Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA
Hallmark Museum of Art, MA
Holyoke Museum of Art, MA
Lafayette Art Center, IN
Miami Museum of Modern Art, FL
Nashville Museum, Tennessee
Oshkosh Public Museum, WI
Peoria Art Center, IL
Research Studio, Maitland, FL
Sanford Museum, Cherokee, IA
Sheldon Swope Gallery of Art, Terre Haute, IN
Silvermine Guild, New Canaan, CT
Taylor Museum, Dartmouth College, NH
Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Hagerstown, MD
Watkins Art Institute, Nashville, OH
Wishart Museum, Wooster, OH

Andrew Dickenson White Museum, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Arlington State College, Arlington, TX
Bat Yam Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel
Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Butler Art Institute, Youngstown, OH
Cincinnati Museum of Art, OH
Columbus Museum of Arts and Crafts, Columbus, GA
Davenport Municipal Art Center, IA
Evansville Museum, IN
Farleigh Dickenson University, Teaneck, NJ
Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard University, Boston, MA
Fort Lauderdale Museum, FL
Frederic R. Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA
George Peabody Museum, Nashville, TN
Grace Museum, Abilene, TX
Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO
Lowe Gallery, University of Miami, FL
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Miami Museum of Modem Art, FL
Museum of Art and Archeology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO
New York Hilton Hotel, New York, NY
New York University Art Collection, New York, NY
Norfolk Museum of Art and Science, VA
Phoenix Museum of Fine Arts, AZ
Research Studio Collection, FL
Rohr Civic Center, Milwaukee, WI
Safed State Museum, Israel
Sheldon Swope Gallery of Art, Terre Haute, IN
Smith College Museum of Art, Northhampton, MA
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Taylor Museum, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
Tokyo Artists Center, Japan
University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ
University of lllinois, Urbana-Champagne, IL
University of Maine, Orono, ME
University of Wyoming Art Museum, Laramie, WY
Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Hagerstown, MD
Witte Memorial Museum, San Antonio, TX
Yeshiva College, New York, NY

Research Studio, Maitland, Florida: 1953, 1959, 1961 Yaddo, Saratoga Springs 1955

President, American Society of Contemporary Artists
President, National Associate of Women Artists, 1972-1974
Vice President, National Society of Painters in Casein
Treasurer, Audubon Artists, 1970-1972
Officer, Society of American Graphic Artists
Officer, Artist Equity of New York, NY
Delegate, U.S. Committee of the International Association of Art, 1966-1974
Official Observer, Third and Fourth International Congresses in New York and Tokyo, 1968
Member, Woodstock Artists Association

New Jersey Painters and Sculptors Society: Oil,1960, Watercolor, 1962
National Association of Women Artists 1957, 1959, Medal of Honor in graphics 1961
Isabella Banks Markell, Award 1963
National Society of Painters in Casein, 1960
Brooklyn Society of Artists: Oil 1957, Watercolor, 1958
Silvermine Guild 81st New England Annual, 1957
Woodstock Artists Association Presentation Show 1957
Boston Society of Independent Artists Purchase Awards, 1951, 1956

Guggenheim Comments (James Johnson Sweeny); January 1956--"There is an extreme evenness in quality. The compositional idea and its possibilities as you showed them particularly interested me; May 1956--The light areas gave a vitality to the color composition and the whole impressed me with its live legibility."

La Prenea, Argentina, March 1961-"Well developed skill and technical accomplishment"

Sun Bulletin
, July 1963-''Effective semi-abstract composition deals with the city"

New York Times, October 15, 1961-"Geometrics are practiced by...Helen Gerardia at the Bodley."

Herald Tribune, September 1963-"Notable on our checklist, black and ochre hard edged abstraction"

Art Voices, November 1963-"Gerardia deals with the commonest geometric forms. A straight line is probably her favorite even though all she can do with it is change its position, extend it or shorten it. With this unprepossessing material she creates excellent compositions."

American Statesman, Austin, Texas, November 1964-"Miss Gerardia is an accomplished artist in Casein."

Book 111 Prize Winning Graphics, 1965-"Helen Gerardia is one of those artists with a gift for moving in a straight line. The work of this extremely intelligent artist has progressed steadily to the place of her present success and public acclaim."

Art Voices Spring Quarterly, 1965-"Gerardia uses pure intense color. She uses triangles with black which if projected is mentally prolonged beyond the border of the picture. After images or spectra can easily be induced."

Times Union, Albany Institute of History and Art, 1965-"Helen Gerardia shows a starkly jagged work...which combines austerity and dynamism"

Charleston Gazette, West Virginia, November 1966---"The Gerardia show at Sunrise is an imposing example of the extremely disciplined, semi-abstract manner in which the artist works."

The Arts, Richard B.K. McLanathan, Gene Brown, New York Times Company, 1977 Prize Winning Paintings Book 7, 1967-"Design created the illusion of speed, flashing astral bodies and a feeling of the unknown"

Art News, March 1967-"Helen Gerardia is an industrious artist and hardly a day goes by that one of her prints or a painting fails to go on view or win a prize in some comer of the country."

2000 Women of Achievement
Art Collectors Almanac
Bicentennial of Human Resources
Davenport's Art Reference: Gold Edition, 2005
International Dictionary of Art
Smithsonian Archives of American Art: Checklist of the Collection,1983
The Artist's Bluebook,, 2005
Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975, 1999
Who's Who in America
Who's Who in American Art, 1976, 1986
Who's Who of American Women
Who's Who of World's Women
Women Artists in America: 18th Century to Present, 1973

Bodley Gallery Publication
Bodley Gallery Publication
Catskill Mountain Newspaper
Collectors of American Art- 1952
Gothams Friendly Community Newspaper
Helen Gerardia Resume, c1973
Interview with Arnold Lehman, Director, Brooklyn Museum
Interview with The Archives of American Art (Smithsonian Institute)
Interview with Thomas E Foster, The Central Catalog of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Knickerbocker News, February 9, 1955
New York Post, February 6,1955 New York Times
New York Times, October 15, 1961
Rudolph Galleries Publication Schenectady Paper, February 7 1955
Village Art Center Publication

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information, submitted by Robert Gamse, is quotes from various reviews of work by the artist. They were compiled from the Helen Gerardia papers at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art in Washington, DC, by Robert Gamse, art collector.

“Space is Helen Gerardia’s great interest -- and she has charted the unknown, infinite reaches with subtle ordering, with precision, and with great beauty.” City East, Sept. 1968

The Bodley Gallery at 787 Madison Avenue is known among the art buffs for its interesting and constantly changing art shows.  Helen Gerardia, painter and print-maker is having her seventh one-woman show of oils and silk-screen prints. Space Voyager

This show is a development of her inimitable style.  She has the unique capacity to employ black and white plus one color to make a visual impact of extraordinary intensity.  She images the trajectories of deep space created by flashing astral bodies.  This group of paintings is a departure from her previous straight angle lines; crescent-shaped forms are introduced which act as pendulums to create rhythms of movement in opposition to angular thrusts.” - FM Guide Magazine, February 1972

“These hard-edge purist paintings are bold, decisive and rich with a feeling for deep space. You will probably admire as I did Purple and Black Series, where you seem to be brought right up close to the orbital tracks of  astral bodies that have vanished into the infinite.  Also look for Space Trip II & III and Space Rays- three great paintings that epitomize the artist’s aesthetic credo.  Her silk-screens, Journey, a red, black and white composition, and Moonlight in blue, black and white, duplicate successfully this exploration of space in another media.  The dates are Feb. 15-26.”- Bodley Gallery, 1972

Gerardia at Bodley An exceptionally interesting one-man show of recent acrylics and graphics by Helen Gerardia is on display at the Bodley Gallery.  As in the past, the artist has created striking compositions using black and white and a minimum of sharply contrasting colors. Her works are made up of a few flat, well-balanced, hard-edged geometric shapes.  It is the relationship between the components of each composition that makes these paintings seem more abstract than non-objective.  In one composition, part of the “Lunar Series,” a succession
of crescents and a circle clearly suggests light, space and a moon.  In another painting, alternating areas of black and white appear to measure out time or space for two red and purple discs resting upon them.  Each of Helen Gerardia’s dynamic compositions seems quite capable of electrifying the viewer with its dramatic contrasts. This is a highly rewarding exhibition.  Betsy Powell, Park East

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