The American artist, poet and set designer Florine Stettheimer (August 19, 1871 – May 11, 1944) was born and raised in New York City. Along with her mother Rosetta and her two sisters, Ettie and Carrie, she moved to Europe and studied art in Germany. When the First World War. began, Stettheimer was forced to leave and eventually return to New York
Stettheimer's paintings and prints are bright and fantastical, with surreal setting, often featuring New York City landmarks. In Picnic at Bedford Hills, 1918, she paints her two sisters and their friends, artists Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) and Elie Nadelman (1882-1946) enjoying a picnic.
Dressed in extravagant clothing and having a variety of food to their disposal, Stettheimer and her company seem to be ignoring the farmers and completely disconnected from them. Even the vibrant colours that Stettheimer chooses to use in order to depict the nonchalant leisure class in the foreground is in direct contrast to those used in the background, making the division between the two worlds even more noticeable. This is one of the times where the artist makes subtle social commentary on the class inequalities that are present in modern life, by juxtaposing the elegant and carefree wealthy group of friends with the hard-working laborers - Florine Stettheimer, Jungle Magazine
She is securely esteemed—or adored, more like it—for her ebulliently faux-naïve paintings of party scenes and of her famous friends, and for her four satirical allegories of Manhattan, which she called “Cathedrals”: symbol-packed phantasmagorias of Fifth Avenue, Broadway, Wall Street, and Art, at the Metropolitan Museum.
She painted in blazing primary colors, plus white and some accenting black, with the odd insinuating purple. Even her blues smolder. Greens are less frequent; zealously urbane, Stettheimer wasn’t much for nature, except, surreally, for the glories of the outsized cut flowers that barge in on her indoor scenes. She painted grass yellow. She seemed an eccentric outlier to American modernism, and appreciations of her often run to the camp—it was likely in that spirit that Andy Warhol called her his favorite artist. But what happens if, clearing our minds and looking afresh, we recast the leading men she pictured, notably Marcel Duchamp, in supporting roles? - New Yorker
Stettheimer's designs - and Florine Stettheimer prints:
In 1934 she designed sets and costumes for Four Saints in Three Acts, an avant-garde opera by Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thompson. After Florine’s death, her sister Ettie published an anthology of her poems, Crystal Flowers, in 1949; it was reissued in 2010. She also sold many of Stettheimer’s paintings to museums: her final series of four paintings, Cathedrals, depicting street scenes throughout Manhattan, now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art - Jewish Women's Archive
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