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Weber was born in Chicago, IL in 1932. She attended Scripps College in Claremont, California, and UCLA, where she received a BA in 1954 and an MA in 1955. In 1957, her drawing Observation of Sound was included in "Recent Drawings U.S.A." a juried exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York where it was purchased.
In light of her success, Weber moved to New York to work and to secure a gallery affiliation. Sam Hunter, then curator at MoMA, arranged for her to meet art historian H. W. Janson, who admired Weber's work but stated that he did not include women painters in his books. Charles Allen, owner of the Allen Gallery, similarly indicated that he did not show women artists. Weber attended an illustration and design class taught by Alexander Liberman at the School of Visual Arts, but when she asked Robert Motherwell if she could audit his class at Hunter College, he responded that married women with children were not permitted to audit classes because they would not continue painting. Weber had married earlier that year. In 1958 her son was born, followed by a daughter in 1964, yet she continued painting.
She attended classes at the Brooklyn Museum and the Art Students League, rented a studio in Brooklyn Heights, and showed her work in several group exhibitions. Finally Weber signed with Bertha Schaefer Gallery in 1962 where she had two solo exhibitions (Weber would be represented later by a string of galleries, including Hundred Acres, OK Harris, Schmidt-Bingham, and Jean Albano.). It was also around this time that she came to know Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist and other Pop artists through her contacts at the Castelli Gallery. She became particularly close with Yayoi Kusama, Lucas Samaras, Claes Oldenburg, and Agnes Martin.
During the early 1960s, Weber's work mainly consisted of silhouette paintings against brightly colored, checkerboard backgrounds. Her preferred subjects were anonymous figures engaged in everyday activities, such as a group of friends playing cards (Hearts, 1964), or business men riding escalators (Munchkins I, II, & III, 1964). She began making large-scale Plexiglas sculptures in 1965. Jumprope Lady was her first successful attempt at transposing her silhouette paintings into three-dimensions.
In the late 1960s, Weber switched from her early Pop aesthetic to Photorealist techniques. Working from photographs and slides of New York City, she made highly detailed paintings of fruit-stands (Bluebird, 1972), trash and litter (Heineken, 1976), which would become her dominant themes over the next several years. Weber became a leading member of the Photorealist movement and formed friendships with Duane Hanson, Robert Cottingham, Richard Estes, John DeAndrea, John Salt, and Ralph Goings, among others.
Weber taught graduate drawing and painting at NYU in the 1970s and would later teach art at Harvard University, the Art Barge in Amagansett, NY and the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia, where she was also artist-in-residence. In the 1990s, Weber made a series of landscape paintings and monotypes, but a severe allergy to most solvents forced her to stop working with oil paint in 1995. In 2000 she began working in collage, culminating in a major installation, Head Room, at the Contemporary Gallery at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn, NY. Weber continues to live and work in New York City.
- 1963, 1964 Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York, NY.
- 1973, 1975, 1977 Hundred Acres Gallery, New York, NY.
- 1979, 1982 OK Harris Gallery, New York, NY.
- 1984 Siegel Contemporary Art, New York, NY.
- 1985, 1987 Ruth Siegel Ltd. New York, NY
- 1986 Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL.
- 1987 Fendrick Gallery, Washington, DC.
- 1994, 1996, 1998 Schmidt-Bingham Gallery, New York, NY.
- 1994 Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.
- 1995 Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne University, Australia.
- 1998 Bermuda National Gallery, Hamilton, Bermuda.
- 2004 Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, NY
- 1956 "Recent Drawings, U.S.A."—Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.
- 1957 "New Talent"—Art in America and American Federation of Arts. [traveling exhibition]
- 1958 "Group Show"—Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY.
- 1961 "Modern American Drawings"—Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. [traveling exhibition]
- 1963 "Pop Goes the Easel"—Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, TX.
- 1963 "Pop Art U.S.A."—Oakland Museum and California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA.
- 1964 "Contemporary Drawings"—Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY.
- 1964 "The Box Show"—Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.
- 1965 "The New American Realism"—Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA.
- 1965 "Pop Art and the American Tradition"—Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI.
- 1966 "Contemporary American Figure Painters"—Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT.
- 1967 "International Young Artists Exhibition: U.S.A. - Japan"—Japanese Cultural Forum, Tokyo, Japan.
- 1975 "Twenty-five Stills"—Whitney Museum of American Art. New York, NY.
- 1976 "Painting and Sculpture Today"—Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN.
- 1978 "Women Artists '78," Women's Caucus for Art, CUNY Graduate Center, New York, NY
- 1980 "American Realism in the Industrial Age"—Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH.
- 1990 "Issues in Post-Modernism"—Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.
- 1992 "Six Takes on Photorealism"—Whitney Museum of American Art at Champion, Stamford, CT.
- 2003 "Challenging Tradition: Women of the Academy, 1826-2003"—National Academy of Design, New York, NY.
- 2008 "Shock of the Real: Photorealism Revisited"—Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL.
- 2010 "Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958-1968"—University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA. [traveling exhibition]
Selected public collections
- Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
- Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AK
- Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
- Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID
- Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
- Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE
- Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA
- Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
- Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, FL (loan)
- Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign, Urbana, IL
- McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX
- Melbourne University, Victoria College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia
- Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
- National Academy of Design, New York, NY
- National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
- Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO
- New York Public Library, New York, NY
- Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
- Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
- Santa Fe Art Foundation, Santa Fe, NM
- Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA
- Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
- Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
- Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
- Battcock, Gregory. Super Realism: A Critical Anthology. E.P. Dutton & Company. New York, New York. 1975.
- Linday, Christine. Surrealist Painting and Sculpture. William Morrow. New York, New York. 1980.
- Meisel, Louis and Helene Zucker Seeman. Photorealism. Harry N. Abrams. New York, New York. 1980.
- Rubenstein, Charlotte S. American Women Artists: From Early Indian Times to Present. G.K. Hall. Chicago, Illinois. 1982.
- Battcock, Gregory, ed. The American Photorealists: An Anthology. Fischer Fine Arts, Ltd. London, United Kingdom, 1983.
- Finch, Christopher. American Watercolors. Abbeville Press. New York, New York, 1986.
- Baur, John I. H. Realism Today: American Drawings from the Rita Rich Collection. National Academy of Design. New York, New York, 1987.
- Ward, John. American Realists Painting 1945-1960. UMI Press. Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1989.
- Ragans, Rosalyn. Art Connections. SRA-McGraw/Hill. Columbus, Ohio, 1997.
- New, Jennifer. Drawing From Life: The Journal as Art. Princeton Architectural Press. New York, New York, 2005.
Articles & reviews
- "New Talent in the U.S.A.," Art in America, March 1957.
- "Pop," Das Kunstwerk vol. 17, No.10, 1964.
- "Idelle Weber," New York Herald Tribune, May 30, 1964.
- Dore Ashton. "New York Commentary," Studio International no. 856, April, 1965, p. 168.
- "Idelle Weber," Arts Magazine, September, 1975.
- Linda Chase. "Photorealism: Post Modernist Illusionism," Art International, March/April 1976.
- John Perreault. "Photo Shock," Soho Weekly News, January 22, 1976.
- Lorraine Gilligan. "Idelle Weber," Womanart no. 1, Fall 1977, p. XX.
- Ellen Lubell. "Idelle Weber," Arts Magazine, September 1977.
- William Zimmer. "Idelle Weber," Arts Magazine, June 1979.
- William Zimmer. "Idelle Weber," Arts Magazine, October 1982, p. 19.
- William Zimmer. "Idelle Weber," Arts Magazine, October 1983, p. 2.
- "Idelle Weber at O.K. Harris," Art in America, February 1983, pp. 132–3.
- Joan Marter. "Idelle Weber" Arts Magazine, November 1985, p. 123.
- John Russell. "Idelle Weber," New York Times, April 20, 1984.
- Paula Span. "Making a Business Out of Art for the Office," The Wall Street Journal, July 11, 1985, p. 22.
- Stephen Westfall. "Idelle Weber," Arts Magazine, March 1986, p. 129.
- Helen Ferrulli. "Pop Went Their Easels: How Industry Transformed the Art of the 60s and 70s," Arts and Entertainment Magazine, June 1991, p. 10.
- Holland Cotter. "Art in Review, An Uncommon Line," New York Times, July 30, 1993, p. C26.
- Valerie Steiker. The New Yorker, March 1994.
- Edith Newhall. ARTnews, Summer 1994.
- Grace Glueck. "Idelle Weber," New York Times, October 18, 1996, p. C1.
- Ann Landi. "Who Hails From Hopper?" ARTnews, April 1998.
- Helen A. Harrison. "Head Room," New York Times, June 21, 2004.
- "Idelle Weber: Chronology," Artist Works Catalogue, artnet.