Biala + Edith: An Evening of Their Art and Letters – The Art Students League

Biala + Edith: An Evening of Their Art and Letters

From left: Biala (1903-2000) in her courtyard, Paris, c. 1965. Photo: Henri Cartier-Bresson © Henri Carier-Bresson/Magnum Photos.
Edith Schloss (1919-2011) at the Caffè Novecento, Rome, 2008. Photo: Sylvia Stucky

Biala + Edith were internationally recognized for their art and historically respected for their often vocal opinion of the art world and the players who swayed influence. Both lived strikingly independent lives and this independence was reflected in their art, which in both cases assimilated Abstract Expressionism—the movement in which both artists were deeply enmeshed. Both artists attended The Art Students League: Biala in 1923 and Edith in 1942.

This special evening will feature readings of letters from the archive of each artist selected by Jason Andrew, Director of the Estates of Biala and Edith Schloss, and an illustrated purview of their work. The charismatic character of both artists will be brought to life through the reading of the letters by choreographer Julia K. Gleich.

Biala (1903-2000) was recognized in France and the United States for her paintings of intimate interiors, portraits, and the many places she traveled. A Polish émigré, Biala was born Schenehaia Tworkovska in a small village of Biala in 1903. She immigrated to New York with her older brother and both would soon become active in the early avant grade artist communities of Greenwich Village and Provincetown—Biala taking the name of her native town and Jack becoming a founding member of The Club. On a fateful trip to Paris in 1930, she met the English Novelist Ford Madox Ford. He would introduce her to everyone he knew including Gertude Stein, Picasso, and Matisse among others. She remained at his side until his death in 1939. Upon her return to New York, she quickly became a leading artist in Postwar America befriending Willem de Kooning. She would continue to divide her time, living and exhibiting between New York and Paris until her death in 2000.

Edith Schloss (1919-2011) was one of America’s great expatriate artists intrinsically linked to the milieu of postwar American art whose paintings, assemblages, collages, watercolors and drawings border on the bittersweet, fragile, intimate and naive. Born in Offenbach, Germany, Edith arrived in New York in 1942. She met the socialist Heinz Langerhans who introduced her to Fairfield Porter and Bertolt Brecht and through Porter she met Willem de Kooning, Edwin Denby, and Rudy Burckhardt (who she would marry in 1946). From the onset of the 1950s Schloss exhibited regularly in galleries lining 10th Street and summered in Maine where she befriended Alex Katz and Lois Dodd among others. Separating from Rudy, she left for Rome in 1962 with her young son with plans to stay for only three months; she stayed for a lifetime. Painter Cy Twombly and experimental musician Alvin Curran became her closest friends. An avid writer, she was a critic for The International Herald Tribune and feature art critic for Wanted in Rome. She passed away in 2011 on the eve of the opening of her exhibition, The Painted Song: new works by Edith Schloss and musical score by Alvin Curran.

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