OF ANNA WALINSKA
1906 Born London,
England. Daughter of labor leader Ossip Walinsky and sculptor-poet-activist
Rosa Newman Walinska.
1914 Family moves to New York, where their home becomes a magnet
for the Russian intelligentsia. Four years later, Walinska begins study
at the Art Students League.
19261930 Lives on and off in Paris. Studies with André
LHôte. Indelibly influenced by the work of emerging artists
1935 Founds Guild Art Gallery on West 57th Street in New York City
to show artists of genuine merit, whether known or unknown, totally
independent of commercial consideration. Gives Arshile Gorky his
first one-man show in New York. Scrapbooks of the Guild Art Gallery, along
with sketchbooks and journals, eventually become part of the Archives
of American Art at the Smithsonian.
1937 Represented in American Artists Congress first annual
membership exhibition. Subsequent group shows include: Artists for Victory,
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1942; Paintings of the Year, 1946, National
Academy of Design; Recent Drawings USA, MOMA, 1956; Baltimore Museum of
1939 Serves as Assistant Creative Director of the Contemporary
Art Pavilion at the New York Worlds Fair.
1955 Journeys around the world. Lives four months in Burma. Attends
cabinet meetings, as Prime Minister U Nu is pressed for time to sit for
his portrait. U Thant, future Secretary General of the United Nations,
writes letter of introduction to Nehru. Walinska becomes a renowned portrait
artist, with subjects including Eleanor Roosevelt, Louise Nevelson, and
1957 Walinskas first retrospective opens at the Jewish Museum
in New York City. She begins teaching at the Riverside Museum, where she
is an artist in residence, and exhibits there through 1971, when the Riverside
collection is moved to the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University.
1960 The Monede Gallery on Madison Avenue hosts The Collage &
The Figure, a one-woman show including many works done with Shan paper
Walinska brought home from Burma.
1979 Holocaust: Paintings & Drawings, 19531978 opens
at the Museum of Religious Art at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine
in NYC, and subsequently tours the country. Works on this theme eventually
become part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Religious Art,
the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Yad Vashem in Israel.
Over the next decade, Walinska's work also becomes part of important collections
in the U.S. and abroad including the National Museum of American Art and
the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
1997 Dies peacefully on December 19. Remembered by family and friends
for her unforgettable stories, generosity in nurturing others, and spectacular
hats. Her life was like the collages she worked on for the better part
of her 91 yearsa patchwork of the everyday and the unique, pulled
together into something larger with a deeper meaning.
Posthumously: In 1999,
Walinska's one-woman retrospective, Echoes of the Holocaust:Paintings,
Drawings, & Collage, 1940-1989, opens Clark University's Center
for Holocaust Studies, which hangs four works from this group on permanent
display. In 2000, the exhibit travels to the Ghetto Museum
at the Terezin Memorial in the Czech Republic, the first time Walinska's
work is shown in Eastern Europe. Three one-woman gallery shows, including
two in New York, achieve critical praise. Walinska's works join the collections
of the National Portrait Gallery, the Johnson Museum at Cornell, the Women's
Studies Research Center at Brandeis, the Zimmerli Museum at Rutgers, and
the Magnes Museum in Berkeley.