The Beginning, a painting by Sonia Gechtoff

On the loss of Pioneering Abstract Expressionist Artist Sonia Gechtoff

The Denver Art Museum is saddened to learn of the death of artist Sonia Gechtoff. She died on February 1, 2018 at the age of 91. We are honored that her work was recently included in the DAM-organized 2016 exhibition Women of Abstract Expressionism, and that we have two of her paintings in our collection.

From Gwen Chanzit, Curator Emerita of Modern Art and the Herbert Bayer Collection and Archive 1980-2016:

"One of my greatest pleasures has been visiting Sonia in New York in conjunction with Women of Abstract Expressionism and afterwards.

Sonia always believed in herself and knew her work was extraordinary, even during the many years it was under recognized. She gifted a late painting to the Denver Art Museum to go with her early one in the collection, The Beginning.

Sonia Gechtoff’s experience exemplifies the difficulty of women painters in New York during the 1950s and 60s. Her early success as a central figure in Bay Area abstraction was cut short when she made the move to New York City. Despite recognition that included showing in Sweeney’s Younger American Painters at the Guggenheim in 1954, and representing the United States in the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, she met with tremendous gender bias in New York.

Thankfully, in the last few years, she was able to see interest in her work rekindled, as women abstract expressionists are now being reexamined. She was thrilled to see her work rediscovered in Women of Abstract Expressionism."

Learn more in this artnet obituary.

Image: Sonia Gechtoff, The Beginning (1960). Denver Art Museum: Vance H. Kirkland Acquisition Fund, 2015.62. © Sonia Gechtoff.

Carleen Brice is content manager in the marketing department at the Denver Art Museum. Carleen has been at the DAM since 2013. Her favorite painting in Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze is called Lean.