Rediscovering Slobodkina at Sheldon Museum of Art

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Sheldon Museum of Art presents “Rediscovering Slobodkina: A Pioneer of American Abstraction” beginning Jan. 26. On view through April 18, the retrospective showcases Esphyr Slobodkina’s role in the development of American abstraction.

The exhibition includes her noted abstract artworks from the 1930s to 1950s, two original 1939 “Caps for Sale” book illustrations, her sculpture and assemblages, including Sheldon’s 1939 piece, “Sailor’s Wife.”

Born in Chelyabinsk, Siberia, Slobodkina ( 1908-2002 ) fled with her family to China in 1917 during the Russian Revolution and later immigrated to the United States, where she attended the National Academy of Design in New York City in 1928. By the mid-1930s, she became well known for her paintings using hard-edged geometric abstractions in unlikely combinations. She applied her creative vision to a variety of pursuits. She was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists and a popular author and illustrator. Slobodkina said, “To me abstract art is not an abstract of nature. To me abstract art is an abstract of all the basic qualities of good painting transferred unto the canvas without the crutches of realistic, symbolic, surrealist, or socially significant elements.”

Programming for this exhibition includes:

* First Friday opening reception, 5-7 p.m., Feb. 5 — Ann Marie Sayer, executive director of the Slobodkina Foundation, will give a talk about the artist and the exhibition beginning at 5:30 p.m.

* Theatrical storytelling for children, 11 a.m.-noon, Feb. 6 — Sayer will give a theatrical performance for pre-school and elementary school students. Her music and development workshop is based on Slobodkina’s legendary “Caps for Sale” books.

Programming for this exhibition is made possible by a grant from the Nebraska Humanities Council. The exhibition is organized by the Slobodkina Foundation in association with The Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, N.Y., and will include an exhibition catalogue.

Sheldon Museum of Art houses a permanent collection of more than 12,000 objects focusing on American art. The museum, 12th and R streets on the UNL City Campus, is open free to the public during regular hours: Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.; closed Mondays. For information or to arrange a tour, call ( 402 ) 472-4524. Additional information is also available on the Sheldon Web site,

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