Art of Tomorrow: Hilla Rebay and Solomon R. Guggenheim


The German-born Hilla Rebay (1890–1967) was a prolific artist who obtained a solid academic training as a portrait and figure painter. Having initially secured portrait commissions in order to make a living, Rebay would later devote herself to non-objective painting—art without representational links to the material world—which she considered to be the most superior form of art. Belief in the spirituality of art and its educational powers, as well as the force of intuition, guided her throughout her life.

Thanks especially to her friends the artists Hans Richter and Jean Arp, Rebay explored new and radical directions in painting in the 1910s and early 1920s. Arp gave Rebay a copy of Vasily Kandinsky's seminal treatise On the Spiritual in Art (1911) and the almanac Der Blaue Reiter. He introduced her to the Dada movement in Zurich and to Herwarth Walden, the influential owner of the avant-garde Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin. There, as an active participant in the avant-garde, Rebay exhibited on several occasions and had the opportunity to create woodcuts for covers of the gallery's journals and catalogues. At Galerie Der Sturm, Rebay also met the artist Rudolf Bauer, whom she considered to be the foremost exponent of non-objective painting, and entered into a long but often difficult relationship with him. Also thanks to Arp, with whom Rebay had an intimate relationship before meeting Bauer, she discovered paper collage, a medium in which she would particularly excel. This medium enabled her to handle line more freely and to experiment with rhythm and the balance of forms.


On splash page: Hilla Rebay, Veraline, 1945. Oil on canvas, 51 x 42 inches (129.5 x 106.7 cm). Guggenheim Partners Collection, courtesy Gary Snyder Fine Art, New York

This page: Hilla Rebay, Andante Cantabile, 1943. Oil on canvas, 78 X 93 inches (198.1 x 236.2 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Hilla von Rebay Collection 71.1936.RM270

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