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Sonja Sekula

American, 1918-1963


Curating Works


Sonja Sekula was born in Lucerne, Switzerland in 1918, to a Swiss mother and Hungarian father. She lived in America from 1936 to 1955. Sekula attended Sarah Lawrence College. She met the surrealists in exile in New York during 1942. Sekula studied art in New York at Sarah Lawrence College and the Art Students League where she befriended such luminaries as choreographer Merce Cunningham, composer John Cage, and artists such as Robert Motherwell, and Jackson Pollock. Sekula showed at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of this Century Gallery and at Betty Parsons Gallery. Sekula was tightly linked with the abstract expressionist movement, notable for her activity as an "out" lesbian in the New York art world during the 1940s and early 1950s. Sekula was also one of very few women members of the Club. Sekula’s delicacy of her line and her tendency to section the surface into separate areas and compartments seems to connect her to another Swiss artist, Paul Klee. Sekula divides the horizontal canvas into a field of different-sized diamonds, rectangles, semi-circles, triangles, and irregular geometric forms utilizing both bright and dark colors with a unique style of her own, quite an abstract calligraphic style, with finely outlined forms, bold colors, and shapes. Sekula hanged herself in her studio in Zurich, Switzerland after having many years of mental health issues. Her works are in the collections of MoMA, Guggenheim, Whitney, Metropolitan, Kunstmuseum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Brooklyn Museum.