Strange Flowers

Klement, Vera
2009.01
Gift of Ingrid Fassbender

Vera Klement’s art matters because life matters. Her journey to this work is itself a dramatic one. Born in the Free City of Danzig (today Gdansk, Poland) she left her homeland as a child with her family, a few steps ahead of the impending Holocaust. Raised in New York City, as a young artist she watched and worked at the edge of Abstract Expressionism, a witness to one of the greatest moments in the history of American art. Her move to Chicago in the 1960s and her long and distinguished career as an artist and professor at the University of Chicago led her to play a key role in the development of one of America’s major art centers, and her impact on our region as artist and teacher has been vast. Despite the bright colors and tones, there is a Northern feeling to Klement’s work, a subtle but palpable emotional empathy; her ancestors are artists such as Rothko, Rembrandt, Munch, Vermeer, de Kooning, etc., or for that matter, Ibsen, Sibelius, Beethoven – artists of the poignancy of the human spirit, who felt compelled to pursue, as Rothko once put it, “tragedy, ecstasy and doom.”—excerpted from the essay by Chicago art critic James Yood for the RAM exhibition catalogue Vera Klement: Paint Into Icon, 2008

b. 1929
2004
oil, graphite, paper collage on canvas
American, born Danzig
84 x 78 inches