Hilla von Rebay
Hildegard Anna Augusta Elizabeth Freiin Rebay von Ehrenwiesen, Baroness Hilla von Rebay, or simply Hilla Rebay (31 May 1890, Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine – 27 September 1967, Greens Farms, Connecticut), was a notable woman abstract painter in the early 20th century. After immigrating to the United States in 1927, she may be best known for helping Solomon R. Guggenheim collect the art that formed the basis of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and for selecting Frank Lloyd Wright to design the new museum, which became a modernist icon in New York. She achieved recognition for abstract works and modern styles such as collage and biogmorphic linear oil paintings. Rebay is remembered for being a key person in first exposing the American public to avant-garde art.
Early life and education
Hilla von Rebay was born in 1890 into a German aristocratic family in Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine, then part of the German Empire. She studied and lived in Berlin, where she started painting and working as an artist.
In 1927, von Rebay immigrated to the United States and settled in New York, which was a center of arts and culture. An avid art collector, she became a friend and confidante of Solomon R. Guggenheim, and helped guide his purchases. He became a major art philanthropist and founded a museum in his name.
She helped him buy various artworks to establish the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, and he appointed her to its board of directors. Von Rebay chose the noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design the museum.
Von Rebay was acknowledged to have excellent taste in modern art. She continued to paint and achieved some recognition for her abstract works. Although she was long a confidante to Solomon Guggenheim, others in the family found her personally difficult, especially his niece Peggy. After Guggenheim died, the family expelled her from the board of directors.
When the museum was completed, von Rebay was not invited for the opening. She never set foot in the museum she helped create.
Embittered, von Rebay retreated from public life and spent many years at her estate in Westport, Connecticut. She continued to meet many artists, including Wassily Kandinsky, Rudolf Steiner and Marc Chagall.[clarification needed When did she retreat? When did she meet Steiner, who died in 1925? Kandinsky, who died in 1944 (was he ever in the US)? Chagall, who was in the US 1941 to 1948)?]
After her death in 1967, she was buried according to her wishes in her family grave in Teningen, Germany.
Legacy and honors
- 2004, the German documentary filmmaker Sigrid Faltin made the film The Guggenheim and the Baroness: The Story of Hilla Rebay.
- In 2005, a companion book Die Baroness und das Guggenheim Hilla von Rebay – Eine Deutsche Künstlerin in New York was published.
- In 2005, nearly forty years after her death, the Guggenheim Museum honored von Rebay with a special exhibition on her role in the foundation, and her art. It opened in New York and traveled to Europe. Part of the exhibition was devoted to von Rebay's intricate collage portraits, as well as her abstract art.
- The Hilla von Rebay Foundation was established in her name at the Guggenheim Museum. It offers stipends to summer interns who are currently enrolled graduate students.
- ^ Regarding personal names: Freiin is a title, translated as Baroness, not a first or middle name. The title is for the unmarried daughters of a Freiherr.
- Hilla von Rebay at AskArt.com)
- Sudjic, Deyan, The Edifice Complex
- The Guggenheim and the Baroness: The Story of Hilla Rebay
- Die Baroness und das Guggenheim Hilla von Rebay – Eine Deutsche Künstlerin in New York
- Joan M. Lukach, Hilla Rebay – In the Search of the Spirit in Art, New York: George Braziller, 1983
- Guggenheim Museum | Hilla von Rebay collection
- Oral history interview with Hilla von Rebay, 1966, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
- ORF | Hilla von Rebay (German)
- The Guggenheim and the Baroness: The Story of Hilla Rebay, Documentary film website.
- Hilla von Rebay, Memorial website, Teningen (German)