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Claire Falkenstein

American, 1908-1997


Claire Falkenstein

Untitled, 1946

Oil on canvas wrapped panel in artist’s wood sculptural frame
17 3/4 x 20 3/4 in
45.1 x 52.7 cm


Claire Falkenstein was born in Coos Bay, Oregon in 1928. Falkenstein grew up in a tiny, isolated community on the coast of Coos Bay in Oregon. The town had one industry, the lumber mill in which her father was a manager. As a child, Falkenstein would go on the beach to see the sun come up and spend time looking at the shells, rocks, seaweed, and driftwood, these nature forms inspired her work. Falkenstein was a true pioneer amongst artists as in the early 1930s, she invented abstract forms that reflected the new scientific and philosophical concepts of the twentieth century. Falkenstein is well-known as the creator of Peggy Guggenheim’s Venice palazzo gates. Her ability to blend abstract materials such as wood, glass, wire, and metal is unparalleled. Falkenstein’s first solo museum exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1940 was followed by her works being shown at such prestigious museums as the Louvre and the Rodin Museums of Paris. Falkenstein’s early abstract paintings in the 1940s also definedmuch of her style and later works. Falkenstein went to Paris in 1950 for 13 years, her studio became a central meeting place for admiring critics and artists. She met Jean Arp, Alberto Giacometti, and many other European artists. Falkenstein came under the protective wing of a mentor, Michel Tapie, an art connoisseur and intellectual who promoted her work and ideas. Claire Falkenstein is an internationally recognized Abstract Expressionist sculptor, painter, and jewelry maker. Her works are in the collections of Whitney Museum, Metropolitan, MoMA, Guggenheim, Smithsonian, Tate Modern, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Pasadena Museum.