Artist Spotlight: Ida Kohlmeyer

Photo by Judy Cooper, courtesy of Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans, LA, USA.

Photo by Judy Cooper, courtesy of Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans, LA, USA.

Born in New Orleans in 1912, Ida Kohlmeyer has been called one of the best Abstract Impressionist painters of the South. Her career as an artist did not begin until her 30s, after she graduated from Newcomb College with a degree in English literature. In 1934, she traveled to Mexico City and was inspired by Central and South American folk art, which would remain an influence throughout her life. Several years later she began taking painting and drawing classes at Tulane University with Pat Trivigno, who encouraged her to pursue her study of artwork. Upon receiving her master’s she showed her first paintings at the Fifty-Fourth Annual Spring Exhibition at the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art in New Orleans.

In 1956, Kohlmeyer moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts to experiment with Abstract Expressionism alongside Hans Hoffmann. That same year she traveled to Paris and met Joan MirĂ³, who also inspired her abstract work. However, by the mid 60s she tired of abstraction and moved on to create sculptures with wood and Plexiglas. After experimenting briefly with figurative painting, she returned to abstraction in the 70s. Kohlmeyer died in her hometown of New Orleans in 1997.

Ida Kohlmeyer, Symbols, 1981. Oil, graphite and pastel on canvas, 69 1/2 x 69 in. Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay.

Ida Kohlmeyer, Symbols, 1981. Oil, graphite and pastel on canvas, 69 1/2 x 69 in. Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay.

Kohlmeyer received a number of awards for her artistic achievements, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Women’s Caucus for Art, New York, NY, USA (1980); the Museum Purchase Award, Twenty-first Southeastern Annual Exhibition, The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, USA (1966); and the Ford Foundation Purchase Award, Twenty-eighth Corcoran Biennial of Contemporary American Painting, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA (1963). She is featured in NMWA’s upcoming exhibition Telling Secrets: Codes, Captions, and Conundrums in Contemporary Art, starting October 9.

Jackie Witkowski has returned to DePaul University in Chicago for her senior year of Art History. Good Luck!