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Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)


1 of 10
Barcelona #2, 1949
gouache on paper mounted to canvas
38 1/2" x 25", signed and dated

Untitled (Sun), c.1955
copper and glass
9 1/4" x 14 1/4" x 12" / 23.5 x 36.2 x 30.5 cm 

Sun, c.1958
steel and glass
10 1/2" x 21 1/4" x 11 1/2"

Glass Painting #22, 1965
glass and steel
18 1/2" x 18 1/2" x 8"

Sun, c.1960
copper and enamel
38 1/2" x 45" x 52"

Untitled, c.1965
steel and glass
10 1/2" x 16" x 15 1/2"

Mulholland, 1966
acrylic and oil on canvas
30" x 24", signed and dated

Topanga, 1967
acrylic and oil on canvas
48" x 54", signed and dated

Untitled, c.1970
copper and glass
21 1/2" x 12 3/4" x 11 3/4"

All One Rhythm, 1975
india ink on paper
19" x 24 7/8", signed and dated


Exhibitions


New & Noteworthy

Peggy Guggenheim Collection newsletter 2015

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Peggy Guggenheim Collection postcard 2015

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American Fine Art Magazine, November-December 2015

Courtesy American Fine Art Magazine

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Modern Magazine, Spring 2015

by Al Eiber

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American Fine Art Magazine, Jan/Feb 2015

Art Market Updates

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PRESS RELEASE

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery to represent The Falkenstein Foundation

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Prints & Publications


Artist Information

“Well, if you look at my work, of course there's some influence. You can't just go through life not being influenced at all. But there is a kind of action always in my work that is of a kind of interior growth, rather than exterior association with some style or some subject. I've always worked out my own direction.”[i]

Celebrated for her exquisite structures of fused metal and glass, Claire Falkenstein was born in Coos Bay, a small Pacific lumber town in Oregon. As a child, she would often wake up early and ride her horse to the edge of the bay in order to watch the sun rise over the beach. This daily proximity to seaweed, shells, stones, and driftwood had a profound effect on her artistic vocabulary as an adult. Although she began sculpting as a child, Falkenstein did not intend to study art when she entered the University of California Berkeley in 1927. However, it soon became her passion, and in 1930 she graduated with a major in art and minors in philosophy and anthropology. That same year, the East-West Gallery in San Francisco mounted her first solo exhibition, a rare achievement for such a young artist. In 1933, Falkenstein received a grant to study at Mills College in Oakland with Alexander Archipenko, who introduced the principles of implied motion and spatial relationships in abstract sculpture. During her studies at Mills, she also worked with Bauhaus émigrés László Moholy-Nagy and Gyorgy Kepes.

By 1940, Falkenstein was living in San Francisco and working predominantly in wood and ceramics, creating abstract, organic three-dimensional forms with moveable parts. Her work was first shown in New York City in 1944, when the Bonestall Gallery mounted a solo exhibition. In the late 1940s, she began teaching at the California School of Fine Arts, where she met Clyfford Still, whose abstract expressionist paintings had an important influence on her approach to sculpture, and she began to allow more room for the accidental and the spontaneous. Falkenstein’s 1948 exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art demonstrated her move towards a freer, open-form language.

In 1950, Falkenstein moved to Paris, where her friends included American artists Sam Francis, Paul Jenkins, and Mark Tobey. A versatile, innovative artist, Falkenstein spent most of her career unaffiliated with specific art movements, and she attributes her confidence in this individuality partly to her time in Paris, explaining, “the French allowed a kind of individual action. They have the quality of centuries . . . of culture and of art and . . . [y]ou feel it within yourself when you're there. I felt it so strongly that right away my so-called "looking within" really worked. That's when I developed my own vocabulary.”[ii] This vocabulary was the cornerstone of her mature style, and it consisted of five main elements: “the sign and the ensemble, the moving point and the lattice structure, the topological structure.”[iii] She created some of her most important works in Europe, such as the Sun Series, sculptures of welded wire that revealed her fascination with the sculptural qualities of open and negative space. Her work was exhibited extensively, and she became the only non-German artist included in the 1952 Werkbund exhibition, revived for the first time since its suppression under Hitler.

 


[i] Oral history interview with Claire Falkenstein, 1995 Mar. 2-21, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-claire-falkenstein-12659 (Accessed July 2014).

[ii] Oral history interview with Claire Falkenstein, 1995 Mar. 2-21.

[iii] Oral history interview with Claire Falkenstein, 1995 Mar. 2-21.

 

Falkenstein returned to the United States in 1960 and settled in Southern California. Represented by Galerie Stadler in Paris and the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York, she completed numerous public commissions around the world including the gates of the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in Venice (now in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy). Her first public commission in Los Angeles (1963-1965) was a welded copper tube and glass fountain for the California Federal Savings and Loan Association. Known as the Cal Fed Fountain, the work used water as a sculptural element integral to the overall composition. This work forced Falkenstein to think in terms of the construction and flow of sculpture, revealing her recurring interest in molecular structure, topology, and cosmology. The most monumental commission of her career was a series of welded doors and glass windows for St. Basil Church in Los Angeles. Completed in 1969, this series revolved around her notion of the “never ending screen,” a sculptural element she developed and deployed throughout her career, even incorporating it into paintings and drawings. 

In 1997, Falkenstein died at age eighty-nine, and soon after, The Falkenstein Foundation was created to preserve her legacy. Since then, her work has been shown regularly in group and solo exhibitions, including the 2015 exhibition Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft & Design, Midcentury and Today at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC. In 2016, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy mounted Postwar Era: A Recent History, Homage to Claire Falkenstein and currently, the Pasadena Museum of California Art organized the traveling retrospective, Beyond Sculpture, comprised of approximately seventy-five works, including sculptures, paintings, drawings, etchings, lithographs, jewelry, and watercolors, as well as large-scale photographs of her major public commissions. 

Falkenstein’s diverse body of artwork is currently represented in public collections worldwide, including the Tate Modern in London; Centre Pompidou in Paris; Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Museum of Modern Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, both in New York. A prolific artist, Falkenstein continued to work and exhibit for the duration of her nearly seventy-year career. In 2014, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery proudly became the representative of The Falkenstein Foundation.

Postwar Era: A Recent History,
Homages to Claire Falkenstein and Jack Tworkov

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy
January 23 – April 4, 2016
http://www.guggenheim.org/venice

Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947-2016
Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, Los Angeles, CA
March 13 – September 4, 2016
http://www.hauserwirth.com/

Claire Falkenstein: Beyond Sculpture
The Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena, CA
April 17 – September 11, 2016

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
October 2 – December 31, 2016
http://pmcaonline.org/

Visionaries: Creating a Modern Guggenheim
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
February 10 – September 6, 2017
https://www.guggenheim.org/

Cutting Edge: Modern Prints from Atelier 17
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
April 9 – August 13, 2017
http://www.clevelandart.org/

SELECTED MUSEUM COLLECTIONS

Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
Coos Art Museum, Coos Bay, OR
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
Hammer Museum, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah State University, Logan, UT
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA
Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA
Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR
San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Venice, Italy
Tate Britain, London, England
Tougaloo College Art Collection, Tougaloo, MS
University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach, CA
University of Buffalo Art Galleries, Buffalo, NY
University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, MI

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

1930
East-West Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1940
San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA

1948
San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

1952
Werkbund Galerie, Berlin, Germany

1953
Institute of Contemporary Art, London, UK
Galleria d’Arte Moderne il Traghetto, Venice, Italy
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY

1954
Individualités d'Aujourd'hui I, Galerie Rive Droite, Paris, France
Galleria Montenapoleone, Milan, Italy
Galleria Spazio, Rome, Italy
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

1955
Individualités d'Aujourd'hui II, Galerie Rive Droite, Paris, France
Galleria Spazio, Rome, Italy

1956
A propos de Hultberg, Moreni, Sallès, Claire Falkenstein, Galerie Rive Droite, Paris, France
Sculpture d’un Temps Autre, Galerie Interieurs, Angers, France
Junge Amerikanische Kunst, Iserlohn, Germany

1957
Galerie Stadler, Paris, France
Sala Gaspar, Barcelona, Spain

1958
Galleria Il Segno, Rome, Italy
Galleria Spazio, Rome, Italy
Galleria Notizie, Turin, Italy
Osaka International Festival, Osaka, Japan
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
International Exhibition, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA
Bolles Gallery, San Francisco, CA
New York Art Foundation, New York, NY

1959
Gallery Mayer, New York, NY
International Center of Art and Costume, Venice, Italy

1960
Galerie Stadler, Paris, France
Osaka Sky Festival, Osaka, Japan
Galerie Parnass, Wuppertal, Germany
Gallery Mayer, New York, NY
Annual Exhibition of Sculpture and Drawings, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Dusanne Gallery, Seattle, WA
Art Biennal de Paris, Paris, France
New Media New Forms, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, NY
International Center of Aesthetic Research, Turin, Italy
Women of American Art, World House, New York, NY
Art from American Cities, Jefferson Place Gallery, Washington, DC

1961
Falkenstein, Galleria Il Canale, Venice, Italy
Galleria Traghetto, Venice, Italy
Salon de Mai, Paris, France
American Cultural Center, Paris, France

1962
Premio Marzotto, Rome, Italy
Salon Nika, Tokyo, Japan
Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre-Pavillion de Marsan, Paris, France
Claire Falkenstein, Galerie Stadler, Paris, France
Claire Falkenstein, Galerie Rive Droite, Paris, France
Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Turin, Italy

1963
Americans in Paris, Laguna Federal Savings, Laguna Beach, CA
Eleven Americans, Esther Robles Gallery, New York, NY; Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, NY
Salon International de Galeries Pilotes, Lausanne, Switzerland
Offices of Robert H. Carter, Carter Hawley Hale, Los Angeles, CA
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
Galleria d’Arte Moderne Il Traghetto, Venice, Italy

1964
Esther Robles Gallery, Los Angeles
International Exhibition, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Collector’s Show, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
Fine Arts Gallery, Mount Saint Mary’s College, Los Angeles, CA
Laguna Beach Art Association, Laguna Beach, CA
Scripps College, Claremont, CA

1965
Falkenstein, Esther Robles Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Martha Jackson Gallery, New York. NY

1966
3ème exposition internationale de Sculpture contemporaine, Musée Rodin, Paris, France
Hollis Galleries, San Francisco, CA

1967
Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ

1968
Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA
Seligman Gallery, Seattle, WA
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK

1969
Gordon Woodside Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA

1970
Art and Technology, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Sherman Foundation, Corona Del Mar, CA
Malvina Miller Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1971
Utah State University, Logan, UT
Galerie Stadler, Paris, France
Comsky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

1972
Roberts Art Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Polly Friedlander Gallery, Seattle, WA
Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA

1973
Tortue Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Polly Friedlander Gallery, Seattle, WA
Multiple Action Team from M.I.T. and Claire Falkenstein: Topical Image Transducer, California Museum of Science and Industry, Los Angeles, CA

1974
Thousand Oaks Arts Council, Thousand Oaks, CA
Tortue Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ

1975
Coos Bay Art Museum, Coos Bay, OR
Smith Andersen Gallery, Palo Alto, CA
Dorothy Rosenthal Gallery, Chicago, IL

1977
Grossmont College Art Gallery, El Cajon, CA
Tortue Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Senior Fye Gallery, Long Beach, CA
Private Images: Photographs by Sculptors, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA

1978
Stewart Neill Gallery, New York, NY
Lubin House, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
Tate Gallery, London, UK
California Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY

1979
Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, CA
Americans in Paris: The ‘50s, Fine Arts Gallery, California State University, Northridge, CA
Sculpture 79, Muckenthaler Cultural Center, Fullerton, CA
Vanguard American Sculpture 1913–1939, Rutgers University Art Gallery, Rutgers, NJ
Form, No Title, Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
Aspects of Abstract Generating a Cube, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA

1980
Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA
Neill Gallery, New York
Portraits and Palettes—California Artists, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Coos Bay Art Museum, Coos Bay, OR
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA
The San Bernardino County Museum, Redlands, California, CA

1981
Cast, Torn, Formed Paper, Old Venice Jail, Venice, CA
San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CA
Smith Andersen Gallery, Palo Alto, CA
Tortue Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, WA
Claire Falkenstein, Neill Gallery, New York, NY
Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Laguna Museum of Art, Laguna Beach, CA
Tobey C. Moss Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

1982
Laband Art Gallery, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA

1983
City Hall, Los Angeles, CA

1984
La Quinta Festival of Arts, La Quinta, CA
Hemmerdinger Galley, Palm Desert, CA
The Continuing Vision of Claire Falkenstein, 1947-1984, Sweeney Art Gallery, University of California, Riverside, CA
California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA
Helen Lindhurst Gallery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles, CA

1985
Tribute to Martha Jackson, National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
Galerie Stadler, Paris, France
Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA
Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles, CA

1986
Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles, CA
Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA
Denise Cade, New York, NY
Anita Shapalsky Gallery, New York. NY

1987
University Gallery, California State University Stanislaus, Turlock, CA
Hippodrome Art Gallery, Gainesville, FL

1988
Laband Art Gallery, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA
Cantini Museum, Marseilles, France
Art LA 88, Los Angeles, CA
Galerie Stadler, Paris, France
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Phoebe Conley Gallery, California State University, Fresno, CA

1989
Modern Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles, CA
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN

1990
Conejo Valley Art Museum, Thousand Oaks, CA
Transamerica Building, San Francisco, CA
Lori LeBoy Studios, Los Angeles, CA
Conejo Valley Art Museum, Thousand Oaks, CA

1991
Pasadena Showcase House of Design, Pasadena, CA
Hippodrome Art Gallery, Gainesville, FL

1992
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA

1993
First Visit and Beyond program, Los Angeles Art Association and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Mountain View Memorial Gallery, Altadena, CA
Wight Art Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles, CA
Anderson Gallery, Buffalo, NY

1994
Fisher Museum, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Still Working, Parsons School of Design, New York; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

1995
Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA
Pacific Dreams: Currents of Surrealism and Fantasy in California Art, 1934–1957, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA

1997
Claire Falkenstein: Looking Within—A Point of Departure—Collected Works 1927–1997, Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA

2000
The True Grit—Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois, Jay DeFeo, Claire Falkenstein, Nancy Grossman, Louise Nevelson, Nancy Spero, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York; Marsh Art Gallery, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA; University of New Hampshire Art Gallery, Durham, NH; El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, TX; University of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington, KY; Newcomb Gallery, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA; Center for the Visual Arts, Metropolitan State College of Denver, Denver, CO
Welded Sculpture of the Twentieth Century, Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State
University of New York, Purchase, NY
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery: The First Decade, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2004
The Modernist Jewelry of Claire Falkenstein, Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA

2006
Claire Falkenstein: Structure and Flow—Works from 1950–1980, Louis Stern Fine Arts, West Hollywood, CA

2009
Abstract Expressionism: Further Evidence (Part Two: Sculpture), Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

2011
Some Assembly Required, Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles, CA
Claire Falkenstein: Intimate Relations, Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles, CA
Abstract Expressionism: Reloading the Canon, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

2015
FAR-SITED: International Sculpture Symposium 1965/2015, University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach, CA

2016
Impact: The Legacy of the Women’s Caucus for Art, The Katzen Arts Center, American University, Washington, DC
Postwar Era: A Recent History, Homages to Claire Falkenstein and Jack Tworkov, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy
Claire Falkenstein: A Selection of Works from 1955-1975, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY
Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947-2016, Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, Los Angeles, CA
Claire Falkenstein: Beyond Sculpture, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena, CA; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
Women! Women! (of the ‘50s), Anita Shapolsky Gallery, A.S. Art Foundation, New York, NY
Surreal / Unreal, Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles, CA
All That Sparkles: 20th Century Artists’ Jewelry, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Charlotte, NC

2017
Gifts from the Susan Grant Lewin Collection, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Cutting Edge: Modern Prints from Atelier 17, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
Visionaries: Creating a Modern Guggenheim, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY

2018      
On the Edge: Art in Western Europe, 1948-1956, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France
Loved, Lost and Loose: Foreign Artists in Paris 1944-1968, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain
The Time Is N♀w, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY