Hedda Sterne was born in Bucharest, Romania to a Jewish family in 1910. She was mentored by Dada co-founder Marcel Janco and Surrealist Victor Brauner. Sterne travelled frequently to Vienna and Paris, where she attended classes in the ateliers of André Lhote and Fernand Léger, and at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. She studied art history and philosophy at the University of Bucharest from 1929 to 1932. She married Friederich Stern, and during the following decade continued working in art while travelling between Bucharest and Paris. Sterne left Europe and established a studio on East 50th Street in 1942, becoming close friends with her neighbors, Peggy Guggenheim, and Max Ernst. Guggenheim introduced her to artists, including Piet Mondrian, André Breton, and Marcel Duchamp. In 1943, Peggy Guggenheim began to exhibit Sterne’s work at the Art of This Century gallery. That year, she also met Betty Parsons, who would become her long-time gallerist and close friend. Sterne divorced Friederich in 1944 and remarried cartoonist, Saul Steinberg. Sterne was an artist best remembered as the only woman in a group of Abstract Expressionists known as "The Irascibles" which consisted of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko. Her works are in the collections of the Metropolitan, Whitney, Smithsonian, MoMA, Tate Modern, and Centre Pompidou.