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Charmion von Wiegand (1896-1983)


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Dance of the Elements No. 1, 1945
oil on canvas
16" x 12", signed and dated

The Citadel, 1949-50
oil on linen
14 1/2" x 12 1/4", signed and dated

Hall of Golden Bells Collage #107, 1954
collage of various printed and cut papers with oil and gouache mounted on paperboard
9 1/4" x 12" sheet size / 8 1/8" x 10 1/4" sight size
signed and dated

Tang Tapestry: Collage #182, 1956
collage of various papers, fabric and oil on cardboard
21" x 9 1/2" sheet size / 20 1/2" x 9 1/4" sight size
signed and dated

Collage #173: The Orb, 1956
collage of various printed and cut papers with ink and gouache mounted on paperboard
10" x 7 7/8", signed and dated

Region of the Unstructured Sound, 1955/1961
oil on canvas
22" x 10", signed and dated

Prismatic Lattice, 1962
gouache on illustration board
24 1/2" x 21 1/2" sheet size
23 3/8" x 21 1/8" sight size
signed and dated

 


Exhibitions


New & Noteworthy

The New York Sun, April 12, 2007

by Lance Esplund

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Art & Living Magazine 2007

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MRG PRESS RELEASE

Charmion von Wiegand: Offering of the Universe - An Artist's Path from Mondrian to Mantra

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Prints & Publications


Artist Information

“The curve belongs to organic and natural life and relaxes and rests us for this reason. Only the mathematical circle is pure. The straight line jars us and disturbs us, breaks the organic rhythm—it is inorganic, conceptual, and expressive of spiritual will… All art is made up … of the curved line and the straight line—the effort toward a synthesis… But modern art has stripped painting of all but the elements and begun over in a new way… This is always the sign of a new epoch in the world of a new beginning in culture.”[1]

A dedicated champion of abstraction, Charmion von Wiegand was born in Chicago in 1896 and spent much of her childhood traveling, due to her father’s career as a journalist and editor for Hearst Newspapers. In 1915, after finishing high school in Germany, she settled in New York City and attended Barnard College for a year before enrolling at Columbia University. With her father’s encouragement, she took classes at the School of Journalism while nurturing a growing interest in art history. Shortly after college, von Wiegand married and moved to Darien, Connecticut. But the marriage was short-lived, as von Wiegand quickly tired of life as a wealthy suburban housewife. In 1926, she began psychoanalysis, which triggered childhood memories of “colors I had seen in Chinatown . . . in San Francisco. . . the confetti (pink and green) and the red dragons and firecrackers,” and she realized she wanted to become an artist.[2]

Although she had begun to paint, her primary career was journalism, and in 1929, she secured a position in Moscow as a foreign correspondent for Hearst. While in Russia, von Wiegand continued to advance her artistic skills, primarily in the form of landscape painting. In 1932, she returned to New York and married Russian émigré Joseph Freeman, who co-founded and edited the leftist journal New Masses. Von Wiegand wrote art criticism for New Masses and several other publications including New Theatre, ARTnews, and Arts Magazine. In fact, it was in her role as a journalist that von Wiegand first met the Dutch modernist Piet Mondrian, when she went to interview him for her article in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, the first in-depth study of Mondrian written in the United States.[3] This initial meeting led to a close friendship that became vital to von Wiegand’s pursuit of the spiritual in abstract painting. Through Mondrian, von Wiegand re-kindled her interest in Theosophy, reading Madame Blavatsky’s famous book on the subject, The Secret Doctrine. She also stopped painting temporarily in order to embark on an eighteen-month study of neoplasticism. During this time, she concluded that Mondrian’s art was intuitive, not analytical, and she became fascinated with the spiritual potential of neoplastic theory.

With the death of her friend and mentor in 1944, von Wiegand dedicated herself fulltime to painting. While her compositions often incorporated neoplasticism’s iconic grid, she jettisoned the formal constraints of pure neoplasticism. Von Wiegand embraced a variety of influences and practices, experimenting with the surrealist technique of automatism, creating biomorphic abstractions, and working in collage. As part of the cultural avant-garde, she developed a close circle of acquaintances that included John Graham, Carl Holty, Hans Richter, Joseph Stella, and Mark Tobey, who shared her desire to connect the aesthetic and the spiritual in art. She was also a member of the American Abstract Artists, exhibiting regularly with the group from 1948 through the 1950s and serving as its president from 1951 to 1953.

Ultimately, von Wiegand’s quest for the spiritual led her to Buddhism. In the mid-1960s, she met Khyongla Rato Rinpoche, a “reincarnate lama and scholar of the Gelugpa order of Tibetan Buddhism,”[4] who had fled Tibet and recently arrived in New York. They became close friends. Khyongla Rato mentored her in Buddhism, and she aided in the writing of his biography, My Life and Lives. Under his guidance, von Wiegand embarked on a course of spiritual study in the tradition of Mahayana Buddhism, which took her to India and Tibet during the 1960s and 1970s, and she was even able to have an audience with the Dalai Lama. While von Wiegand would regard all of her art as spiritual, her work from these later decades is overtly so; many compositions incorporate metaphysical images and symbols drawn from Theosophical prismatic color charts, Chinese astrology, tantric yoga, and Buddhism. In 1980, von Wiegand was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 1982, the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach, Florida organized her first retrospective, publishing a small catalogue to accompany the exhibition. Von Wiegand continued to work and live in New York City until her death in 1983.

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, is the exclusive representative of the estate of Charmion von Wiegand.


[1] Charmion von Wiegand, New York, to Grace Hammond, Egypt, 27 January, 1944. (Joseph Freeman Papers, Hoover Institute), quoted in Charmion von Wiegand: Spirituality in Abstraction, 1945-1969, exh. cat. (Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, September 7 to October 28, 2000), 2.

[2] Virginia Pitts Rembert, “Charmion von Wiegand's Way beyond Mondrian,” Woman's Art Journal, v.4, n.2 (Autumn, 1983/Winter, 1984), 30-34.

[3] Virginia Pitts Rembert, “Review [Spirit and Form: Charmion von Wiegand, Collages],” Woman's Art Journal, v.20, n.2 (Autumn, 1999-Winter, 2000), 62.

[4] “Khyongla Rato Rinpoche,” Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, website. http://www.fmpt.org/teachers/lineage_lamas/khyongla­_rato_rinpoche.php. Accessed October, 2010.

 

SELECTED MUSEUM COLLECTIONS

Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Arithmeum, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany
Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL
Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, Austin, TX
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA
Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Jacksonville, FL
Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA
Fondazione Marguerite Arp, Locarno, Switzerland
Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York, NY
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York, NY
Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI
The Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ
Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, MA
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC
Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
Palmer Museum of Art, University Park, PA
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, KS
Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, MA
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
 

1942
Rose Fried Gallery, New York, NY; 1947, 48

1947
Charmion von Wiegand, The Pinacotheca, New York, NY, April 21-May 10, 1947

1952
Saidenberg Gallery, New York, NY

1954
Citadella d’Arte Internazionale e d’Avanguardia, Ascona; 1955, 58, 59
Zoe Dusanne Gallery, New York, NY; 1955

1956
John Heller Gallery, New York, NY

1961
Howard Wise Gallery, New York, NY

1963
Howard Wise Gallery, New York, NY

1964
Charmion von Wiegand, Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago, IL, April
Charmion von Wiegand, Howard Wise Gallery, New York, NY, April 27-May 15

1965
Howard Wise Gallery, New York, NY

1969
Gallery 17, University of Texas Art Museum, Austin, TX

1970
Birmingham Art Museum, Birmingham, AL

1973
Galeria Flamma Vigo, Rome, Italy

1974
Annely Juda Fine Art, London, England
Noah Goldowsky Gallery, New York

1975
Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY; 1977, 87, 89

1978
Thirty Years of Collage, Marilyn Pearl Gallery, New York, NY

1981
Charmion von Wiegand and Her Circle, Marilyn Pearl Gallery, New York, NY

1982
Charmion von Wiegand: Her Art and Her Life, Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL

1985
Retrospective Exhibition, 1945-65, Marilyn Pearl Gallery, New York, NY

1990
Charmion von Wiegand: Paintings, Drawing, Collages, Marilyn Pearl Gallery, New York, NY, February 9-March 14
Perri-Reneth Gallery, Southampton, NY

1993
Charmion von Wiegand: In Search of the Spiritual, Joseloff Gallery, Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT

1998
Charmion Von Wiegand: Spirit & Form: Collages, 1946-1962, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2000
Charmion Von Wiegand: Spirituality in Abstraction, 1945-1969, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2003
Charmion Von Wiegand: Improvisations, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2007
Charmion Von Wiegand: From Mondrian to Mantra, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY, March 15-May 12

1945
The Women, Art of This Century, New York, NY

1947
American Abstract Artist Exhibition, Riverside Museum, New York, NY

1948
American Abstract Artist Exhibition, Chinese Gallery Limited, New York, NY

1949
American Abstract Artist Exhibition, Riverside Museum, New York, NY

1950 
14th Exhibition of American Abstract Artists, New School for Social Research, New York, NY, March 15-31
Salon des Realties Nouvelles, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France, June 10-July 15 (catalogue)

1952
American Watercolors, Drawings and Prints, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

1953
The Classic Tradition in Contemporary Art, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN

1955
Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

1957
21st Annual Exhibition: American Abstract Artists, The Contemporaries, New York, NY
Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Pure Abstract Painting Exhibition, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
The Sphere of Mondrian, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX
1957 Annual Exhibition: Sculpture, Paintings, Watercolors, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

1959
Abstract American Artists, Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, NY

1960
Construction and Geometry in Painting from Malevich to Tomorrow, Galerie Chalette, New York, NY; Cincinnati Art Museum, Chicago Arts Club, Walker Art Center, San Francisco Museum
Konkrete Kunst: Fifty Years of Development, Kunstgesellschaft, Zurich, Switzerland
American Federation of Arts, New York, NY

1961
American Federation of Arts, New York, NY

1962
The Art of Assemblage, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Geometric Abstraction in America, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

1963
28th Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Painting, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Art and Writing, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Holland; Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden, Holland
Recent Acquisitions, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
The Classic Spirit in Twentieth Century Art, Sydney Janis Gallery, New York, NY

1964
Classic Spirit in 20th Century Art, Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, NY, February
Mondrian, de Stijl and Their Impact, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York, NY, April
Post-War Collage, International, St. Etienne Museum, France, June
Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
American Abstract Artists Annual Exhibition, Loeb Center, New York University, New York, NY
Women Artists of America, 1707-1964, The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
Second Annual Summer Show, The Art Dealers Association of America, Park-Bernet Galleries, New York, NY

1965
American Abstract Artists Annual Exhibition, Riverside Museum, New York, NY

1967
Art on Paper, Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC
Yesterday and Today, 1936 to 1966, Riverside Museum, New York, NY

1968
Tenth Anniversary Exhibition, New York University Collection, New York, NY
Ornament Tendenzen in der Zeitgenossischen Malerei, Berlin Zehlendorf, Leverkusen, Schloss Wolfsburg
Plus by Minus, Today’s Half-Century, Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY
The Square in Painting, organized by American Federation of the Arts

1969
Sixth Biennale: National Religious Art, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Recent Acquisitions, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

1970
150 Paintings from the New York University Collection, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY
American Abstract Artists Annual Exhibition, Loeb Center, New York University, New York, NY

1971
Ciba-Geigy Collection, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY

1972
The Non-Objective World, 1939-1955, Annely Juda Fine Art, London, England; Galerie Liatowitsch,
Basel Switzerland; Galleria Milano, Milan, Italy
American Abstract Artists Annual Exhibition, Loeb Center, New York University, New York, NY

1973
The Non-Objective World, 1914-1955, Annely Juda Fine Art, London, England; The University of Texas Art Museum, Austin, TX
Post-Mondrian Abstraction in America, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL

1974
De Stijl, Cercle et Carre, Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne, Germany

1975
Three American Purists: Mason, Miles, von Wiegand, Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, MA

1977
Paris - New York, Musee National d’Arte Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France

1978
Geometric Abstraction and Related Works, Newark Museum, Newark, NJ

1979
The Language of Abstraction, Marilyn Pearl Gallery, New York, NY and Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, NY
Mondrian and Neo-Plasticism in America, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
Constructivism and the Geometric Tradition: Selections from the McCrory Corporation Collection,
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Dallas Museum Fine Arts, Dallas, TX; San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA; La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CA; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA; Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh, PA; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, Kansas City, MO; Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI

1982
Abstraction in Action, City Gallery of the Division of Cultural Affairs, New York, NY
Honor Awards Exhibition, National Women’s Caucus for Art Conference, New York

1985
Contrasts of Form:Geometric Abstract Art, 1910-1980, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
The Severe & the Romantic: Geometric Humanism in American Painting, 50s & 80s, Marilyn Pearl Gallery, New York, NY

1989
Abstractions: Past and Present, Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY, July 8-August 4.
Abstraction, Geometry, Painting: Selected Geometric American Painting Since 1945, Albright-Knox
Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY traveled to Center for the Fine Arts, Miami, FL; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
The Patricia and Philip Frost Collection, American Abstraction 1930-1945, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

1991 
Post-War Geometric Concepts, Marilyn Pearl Gallery, New York, NY
The Second Wave: American Abstraction of the 1930s and 1940s, Selections from the Penny and Elton
Yasuna Collection, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA; Samual P. Harn Museum, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL; Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE

1992
Between Mondrian and Minimalism: Neo-Plasticism in America, Whitney Museum of American Art Downtown Branch at Federal Reserve Plaza, New York, NY
Sonia Delauney & Charmion von Wiegand: Works on Paper, Marilyn Pearl Gallery, New York, NY

1994
On Paper: Abstraction in American Art, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

1995
1945: The End of the War, Annely Juda Fine Art,
London, England; Denise Rene, Paris, France; Galerie
Hans Mayer, Dusseldorf, Germany
Referencing Mondrian No.1, Washburn Gallery, New York, NY

1996
Abstraction Across America, 1934-1946, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
The Geometric Tradition in American Art, Meyerson & Nowinski Gallery, New York, NY

1997
Geometric Abstraction: 1937-1997, Snyder Fine Art, New York, NY

1998
Defining the Edge: Early American Abstraction, Selections from the Collection of Dr. Peter B. Fischer,
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY; Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA
American Abstract Art of the 1930s and 1940s: The J. Donald Nichols Collection, Wake Forest
University Fine Arts Gallery, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC

2000
Pasted Pictures: Collage and Abstraction in the Twentieth Century, Knoedler & Company, New York, NY
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery: The First Decade, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2001
Rupture & Revision: Collage in America, Pavel Zoubok, Inc, New York, NY
1950-1965: Works on Paper, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2002
Early American Abstraction: Small Scale – Large Dimension, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2004
Modern American Painting from the NYU Collection, Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College Cork, Ireland
Mood Indigo: The Legacy of Duke Ellington - A Look at Jazz & Improvisation in American Art, Michael Rosenfeld  Gallery, New York, NY, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2005
Another View: New York School, Opalka Gallery, The Sage Colleges, Albany, NY

2006
Paper Works by Abstract Masters, Anita Shapolsky Gallery, New York, NY
Coming of Age:  American Art, 1850s to 1950s, Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA; Meadows Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, England; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy

2008
New York Cool:  Painting and Sculpture from the NYU Art Collection, Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York, NY; Palmer Museum of Art, Pennsylvania State University, PA; University of Iowa Museum of At, Iowa City, IA; Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME; Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN

2009
The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Back to the Future: Alfred Jensen, Charmion von Wiegand, Simon Gouverneur and the Cosmic Conversation, Loyola University Museum of Art, Chicago, IL
Daughters of the Revolution: Women in Collage, Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York, NY

2010
Constructive Spirit: Abstract Art in South and North America, 1920s–1950s, Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
The Shape of Abstraction, Boston University Art Gallery, Boston, MA
Grain of Emptiness: Buddhist Inspired Contemporary Art: Sanford Biggers, Theaster Gates, Atta Kim, Wolfgang Laib & Charmion von Weigand, Rubin Museum of Art, New York, NY

2011
Splendor of Dynamic Structure: Celebrating 75 Years of the American Abstract Artists, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

2012
To be a Lady: Forty-five Women in the Arts, 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery, New York, NY
MinMax: Minimalist Themes in a Maximalist Collection, Allan Stone Gallery, New York, NY
Affinity Atlas, The Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY
INsite/INchelsea: The Inaugural Exhibition, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

2016
The Onward of Art American Abstract Artists 80th Anniversary Exhibition, 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery, New York, NY

2017
The Time Is N♀w, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

2018
200 Jahre Unversität Bonn – 200 Werke aus der Sammlung Arithmeum, Arithmeum, University of Bonn, Bonn Germany
Celebrating 50 Years of the US Open Championships, United States Tennis Association (USTA) President’s Suite, Arthur Ashe Stadium, Flushing Meadows, NY

Hassan Speicher Fund Purchase, American Academy of Arts and Letters

1980
Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters

1982
National Women’s Caucus for Art Conference, New York

1978
The Circle of Charmion von Wiegand, PBS, November 4, 1978; Produced and narrated by Ce Roser; Co-
Produced by Fay Lansner; Directed by Mark Brownstone; Music by Philip Glass.