By Sandra Kraskin, Karen Cantor, Leonard Marcus, and Ann Marie Mulhearn Sayer
184 pages, Hudson Hills Press, 2009
This comprehensive presentation brings new attention to the life and art of a pioneering woman. Esphyr Slobodkina’s favorite illustrations and more than 90 of her paintings are paired with essays examining her work as an assemblage artist and sculptor, as well as her contributions to American Modernism as an abstract painter.
Sandra Kraskin summarizes Slobodkina’s important contribution to American art in her catalog essay: Spanning most of the twentieth century, the narrative of her remarkable life-her independence, her varied talents, her unfailing commitment to abstract art -helps to create a broader perspective through which to view the development of abstract art in the United States. While her illustrations for the 1940 classic children’s tale Caps for Sale brought her international renown-translated into thirteen languages, it has been in print for 68 years-Slobodkina was an abstract artist first. She lived in New York during the advent of Abstract Expressionism, and was one of the founding members of the American Abstract Artists, a group that included Josef Albers and Ad Reinhardt. The group was instrumental in bringing attention to the American Abstract art movement at a time when the primary focus was still on European artists. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s Slobodkina exhibited with Bryon Browne, John Graham, Adolph Gottlieb, and Mark Rothko. Slobodkina continued to produce and exhibit art until age 93.