Event (Nov 20): Biala + Edith: an evening of the art and letters at the Art Students League


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: an evening of their art and letters

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


Art Students League
215 W 57th Street


Biala + Edith were internationally recognized for their art and historically respected for their often vocal opinions 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, an a illustrated purview of their work. The charismatic character of both artists will be brought to life through the reading of the letters 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.

Lecture: Biala: The Woman Painter Among Men

^ Photo: Rudy Burckhardt, 1956

Biala: The Woman Painter Among Men
a special evening with curator Jason Andrew

Thurs, Jan 11, 6:30pm

RSVP (seating is limited)

Art Students League
215 West 57th Street

Painter Janice Biala (1903-2000), known to history primarily by her surname, was an integral figure in the art scene of mid-twentieth century Manhattan. Sister of painter Jack Tworkov, friend of Willem de Kooning and critic Harold Rosenberg, Biala was in the thick of a milieu that gave rise to the New York School. But before all that, she was the lover of the English novelist Ford Madox Ford.

Curator Jason Andrew will trace the remarkable life and art of Biala from her early days of hitch-hiking to Provincetown in the ‘20s, to jumping on a boat to Paris and later her dramatic escape from Nazi occupied France in the ‘30s, to her early support of Willem de Kooning and participation in the New York School in the ’40s. Above all, she left a history of painting noted for its sublime assimilation of the School of Paris and the New York School of abstract expressionism.

This lecture coincides with the exhibition Biala and the Harvey and Phyllis Lichtenstein Collection, on view through February 10 at Tibor de Nagy Gallery, 15 Rivington Street, New York

Exhibition News: First Posthumous Museum Retrospective Announced

Biala,  Blue Interior with Man and Dog , 1979, Oil on canvas, 64 x 51 in. (162.6 x 129.5 cm)

Biala, Blue Interior with Man and Dog, 1979, Oil on canvas, 64 x 51 in. (162.6 x 129.5 cm)

Flushing, NY – The Godwin-Ternbach Museum, Queens College, is pleased to present Biala: Vision and Memory, September 12-October 27, 2013. The exhibition is the first posthumous museum retrospective of American painter Janice Biala (1903-2000) ever held in New York. This historic and comprehensive exhibition brings together paintings, collages, and drawings from across seven decades the artist’s career from the late 1920s to the 1990s. It includes important loans from public and private collections, including two paintings from the Godwin-Ternbach Museum’s permanent collection as well as significant loans from the Estate of Biala. Additionally, the exhibition will display books by celebrated author Ford Madox Ford for which Biala provided illustrations, as well as personal photographs, exhibition catalogues and announcements that document her social and artistic circles in New York and Paris. The exhibition will also feature a documentary about Biala, filmed in  the artist’s studio in 1994. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition, with an essay by its guest curator Diane Kelder, Professor Emerita of Art History at The Graduate Center, CUNY.

An opening reception on Thursday, September 12 from 5-7 pm, will feature an informal exhibition walk-through by Diane Kelder, beginning at 6 pm.

Born Schenehaia Tworkovsky in a town near the Polish Russian border (c. 1903-2000), Biala pursued a career that spanned more than seven decades and brought her critical recognition in New York and Paris. In both cities she formed close friendships with legendary figures of modernist art and literature. She witnessed the eclipse of Paris as the international center of modernism, the rise of Abstract Expressionism, and the dizzying succession of movements that radically transformed the very concept of art during the second half of the 20th century. Through it all, she continued to paint exquisitely crafted canvases in a personal style that, even now, resists classification.

On a visit to Paris in 1930, Biala met and fell in love with the British novelist Ford Madox Ford. She created illustrations and dust covers for several of his books and managed his dealings with publishers until his death in 1939 when she became the Executor of his literary estate. Returning to New York the following year, she reconnected with her brother Jack Tworkov, who introduced her to Willem de Kooning and other artists who would subsequently transform American painting.  Throughout the 50s and 60s, while spending extended periods in Paris, Biala was one of a select group of women who participated in the activities of Studio 35 and The Club and exhibited at the Stable Gallery, a cooperative that showed many artists of the New York School and enjoyed the support of critics Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg. She briefly explored gestural abstraction during this period, but her abiding fascination with the world around her proved more compelling. After taking up permanent residence in Paris, she continued to exhibit regularly in New York until her death in 2000. Since 2005, the Tibor de Nagy Gallery has presented three solo exhibitions that have generated renewed critical interest in her work.

In her opening essay for the catalogue Diane Kelder writes: “Overcoming the hardships encountered by legions of Eastern European immigrants and years of precarious existence as an aspiring young artist, the painter known as Biala (1903-2000) pursued a career that spanned more than seven decades and garnered broad critical recognition in New York and Paris. In both cities, she formed lasting friendships with many of the legendary figures of modernist art and literature. Tough-minded and fiercely independent, she created an idiosyncratic body of work that reflected her peripatetic life, resistance to prevailing art trends, and extended dialogue with the School of Paris. After settling in that city permanently in 1965, Biala continued to exhibit in New York. However, her aesthetic concerns and expatriate status gradually isolated her from the increasingly fashion and market-driven priorities of the late twentieth century art world. In 1989, when asked by a critic to contemplate what her career might have been had she remained in New York, she replied “If I had it to do all over again, I’d do exactly the same thing.”[1]

Continuing, Kelder explains, “In canvas after canvas, she displays remarkable visual intelligence and absolute control of her medium. If Biala’s paintings offer immense gratification to the eye, they also are reservoirs of feeling and memory, lyric affirmations of the life she chose to lead.”

A series of lectures will follow during September and October—dates will be confirmed. Dr. Kelder will discuss Biala’s themes and variations, poet and art critic Mary Maxwell will speak about Biala and the Provincetown Art colony; Biala Estate curator Jason Andrew will discuss Biala and Ford Madox Ford; and GTM Director Amy Winter will comment on women artists in the New York School in the post-WWII period. The museum will also screen the BBC film series “Parade’s End,” based on Ford Madox Ford’s 1924-28 novel about WWI, hailed as “possibly the greatest 20th-century novel in English.”

For further information about the exhibition and program times and dates, as well as upcoming exhibits and events, call 718-997-4747 or visit Godwin-Ternbach MuseumGodwin. All exhibitions and public programs are free.

By car, the Godwin-Ternbach Museum is 30 minutes from midtown Manhattan. Directions are: atwww.qc.cuny.edu/directions

About the Godwin-Ternbach Museum:
The Godwin-Ternbach Museum, a part of Queens College’s Kupferberg Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, presents exhibitions and programs that provide significant educational opportunities and aesthetic experiences to residents of the borough and neighboring Long Island and Manhattan. As the only comprehensive collection in Queens, housing over 5,000 objects dating from ancient to modern times, the museum introduces many individuals to art and artifacts they might not otherwise encounter. The breadth of these holdings, and the rich resources of the college, allow presentations that speak to the interests and needs of the diverse audiences of the communities the GTM serves. Lectures, symposia, gallery talks, films and workshops, and an active website, complement and interpret the art on view. All exhibitions and programs are free and open to the public.

For more about Queens College visit: www.qc.cuny.edu

[1] Michael Brenson, “Three Who Were Warmed By the City of Light,” The New York Times (June 25, 1989): 32.