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Art HERstory: Lila Katzen

Art HERstory: Lila Katzen

Don’t get me wrong, the natural world is beautiful. Trees, mountains, birds, and men are all quite visually appealing. Despite the attractiveness of reality, abstract artists choose to steer clear of recognizable reality and focus more on what you see (colors, shapes, brushstrokes, and textures), and leaves art open to interpretation. Lila Katzen (1932-1998) was a popular abstract sculptor who chose to use flowing, metal forms as her medium of expression.

Most of Lila's sculptures incorporate continuous, flowing lines without the stability of welding.

Lila was a born and raised Brooklyn girl. She found her niche early and enrolled as a student at the Art Students League in Manhattan, but later graduated from Cooper Union. She even got hands on training from Hans Hoffman, the master of Abstract Expressionism. Believe it or not, Lila was a prominent force in the art world by the age of 23 (the age she had her first solo exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art).

'Sunburst' (1979-81). Lila started her art career as a painter. Here is one of the few images left from her brushwork.

Although the bulk of Katzen’s work was created in the 1970s, the pieces are still very much a part of 21st century culture. The flowing, continuous lines of metal stand proud in museums and on college campuses across America. The most interesting aspect of her work is the fact that none of her pieces are welded together. Instead they retain their shape with the aid of metal pins or dowels.

Sculptural Silver Brooch (c. 1978). No, not a huge sculpture. It's a portable one. This steel brooch was Lila's way of making her work mobile.

Lila Katzen lost her battle with liver cancer in 1998. She is survived by her husband Philip, daughter Denize, and son Hal who owns the Hal Katzen Gallery in NYC.

Image Layout: Phaymiss

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