Monday, November 3, 2014

60th Anniversary Celebration of Anna Walinska's World Trip

At MCC, we always enjoy stories about interesting New Yorkers. Here’s one sent to us by MCC Board Member Rosina Rubin of Attitude NY (limousine company).

Anna Walinska, Paris, 1926
My late aunt Anna Walinska (1906-1997) was a woman before her time.

At the age of 19, she moved to Paris to study painting, lived around the corner from Gertrude Stein, and hung out with Poulenc and Schoenberg.

In the WPA era, she founded a gallery on 57th Street, gave Arshile Gorky his first New York City one-man show, danced at Town Hall to benefit the Spanish Loyalistas, and served as Assistant Creative Director of the Contemporary Art Pavillion at the 1939 New York World's Fair.

On November 15, 1954, she set out on a trip around the world ... by herself ... on prop planes.

It was a six-month journey of exploration and discovery, an experience that brought her deep personal inspiration and influenced her work for the remainder of her life.  She kept a diary of the trip, which now resides in the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of this great adventure, I will be sharing some of the highlights of Anna Walinska's trip via Twitter @Walinska Art Follow us on Twitter, beginning November 15.
Please join me to celebrate Walinska's travels -- from New York City to Honolulu, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Burma, New Delhi, Karachi, Cyprus, Israel, Istanbul, Athens, Rome, Perugia, Florence, Venice, Pompei, Naples, Sorrento, Capri, Nice, Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo, Lisbon, and finally to Bermuda (where she noted in her diary that the single room rate at the Elbow Beach Surf Club ran from $14-$25).

By the time the trip was over, Anna Walinska had flown on five different airlines, painted a portrait of the Prime Minister of Burma, received a letter of introduction to the Prime Minister of India from the future Secretary General of the U.N., and made countless friends around the world.

Walinska's body of work spans nine decades, with the oldest known watercolor from 1918, painted during her studies as the Art Students League.  Over her lifetime, she created more than two thousand works on canvas and paper, including several hundred works on the theme of the Holocaust and a series inspired by the 17th century Japanese erotic Shunga prints, which she began at the age of 76.

Born in London in 1906 to Russian immigrants, Walinska was the daughter of labor leader Ossip Walinsky and sculptor-poet-activist Rosa Newman Walinska, who settled in New York in 1914.  During her lifetime, her work was most notably exhibited at a 1957 retrospective in New York at the Jewish Museum, and in numerous group shows organized by the American Federation of Modern Painters & Sculptors, the National Association of Women Artists, and the Silvermine Guild, as well as at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art.  Posthumously, her work has been shown in exhibitions from New York City to the Czech Republic.

Her work is included in numerous prestigious collections including the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum of American Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, the Jewish Museum, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem, the Magnes Museum, and the Zimmerli Museum at Rutgers.

I am excited to share with you the history of a fabulous woman, her life, and her work.  The celebration begins on Twitter @WalinskaArt Follow us on Twitteron November 15.
Portrait of AW by Arshile Gorky, 1937
Rosina Rubin
Atelier Anna Walinska
@WalinskaArt Follow us on Twitter
Anna Walinska, Self-Portrait, 1939
Walinska with Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and The Patriarch, Gres Gallery, Washington D.C., 1958

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