Ida Kohlmeyer was close friends with Mark Rothko and trained under Hans Hoffman as well as at Tulane University's Newcomb College Institute. She created Abstract Expressionist paintings during the early half of her career and eventually progressed into making paintings characterized by fluid lines and biomorphic shapes.

Ida Rittenberg was born to Joseph and Rebecca Rittenberg in 1912. Her parents were Polish immigrants who established a pawnshop business in New Orleans, where Ida was born and raised. It was here that Ida studied English Literature at Tulane University and received her B.A. in 1933. Her interest in literature transformed into a fascination for the Latin American arts after she met and married her husband Hugh Kohlmeyer in 1934. Her growing desire to paint led Ida to attend the John McCrady Art School in 1947 and later take classes at Tulane's Newcomb College as a special student under the direction of Pat Trevigno. She graduated from Newcomb College and received her M.F.A in 1956. She went on to attend summer classes in Massachusetts where she was instructed by the great Hans Hoffman and was highly influenced by Abstract Expressionism. In 1959 she held her first solo exhibition at the Ruth White Gallery in New York. In 1966 Kohlmeyer was commissioned by the Peace Corps to make a painting as a gift for a retired Sergeant Shriver. She was also appointed the associate professor of art at the University of New Orleans in 1973, and in 1982 she was acclaimed as an honorary life member of National Women's Caucus for Art. As a painter and sculptor Kohlmeyer was well known and represented on both the west and east coasts. She died on January 29, 1997 at the age of eighty-five.

Pursuing her interest for art in her thirties, Ida Kohlmeyer went on to create brilliant works strongly influenced by the Abstract Expressionist style. Her oeuvre includes printmaking, drawings, paintings, and sculpture. Kohlmeyer struggled to break from the artistic influences of the first generation Abstract Expressionists such as Hoffman, Rothko, and Miro who she so strongly admired. Her personal style did not develop until the 1970s. This style is characterized by her use of grids to develop geometric abstractions produced through automated gestures. Her geometric “pictographs” were seen as series of signs that could only be read visually, whether or not this was her intention. During this period she was most well-known for her Clusters series. It wasn't until the 1980s that Kohlmeyer's style shifted to Synthesis painting, a less rigid, geometric style with a greater emphasis on color. The success of her compositions was heavily reliant on her drawn line and mark-making. Kohlmeyer did not begin sculpture until late in her life. Her sculptures were often made of Plexiglas, wood, and cloth. These works appear to be related to her paintings and are defined by their more “fluid” line, bright colors, and almost biomorphic shapes. Kohlmeyer relied on the elements of line and color to produce a large collection of brilliant works with an obvious influence of both Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism and a slightly personal touch.

Text by Kelly Brent (


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36 x 30 inches

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