Hilla Rebay von Ehrenwiesen
Hilla Rebay von Ehrenwiesen (1890–1967)
Born in Germany, the painter Hilla Rebay was part of a community of European avant-garde artists. Her friends and colleagues included Jean Arp, Kurt Schwitters, and Max Ernst, all of whom would eventually be considered major artists. Rebay was especially interested in the paintings of artists Rudolph Bauer and Vasily Kandinsky who were working in a new style that she called Non-Objective Painting.
According to Rebay, “Non-Objective painting represents no object or subject known to us on earth. It is simply a beautiful organization of colors and forms to be enjoyed for beauty’s sake and arranged in rhythmic order.” Rebay was deeply concerned with the spiritual in art and was influenced by Buddhism and Theosophy. She considered the masterpieces of Non-Objective painting to be “the culmination of spiritual power made intuitively visible. The forms and colors we see are secondary to their spiritual rhythm which we feel.”
In 1928, soon after Rebay arrived in New York, Irene Guggenheim commissioned her to paint Solomon Guggenheim’s portrait. Hilla Rebay eventually became Solomon Guggenheim’s chief art adviser, and later the first director of the Museum of Non-Objective Painting and its successor, the Guggenheim Museum.