Calligraphy of Line:

The Paintings and Drawings of Anna Walinska

Closing this Friday, March 3rd

Anna Walinska (American, 1906–1997), Burmese Landscape, 1956, oil on canvas

30 H. x 46 1/2 W. inches, signed lower left: Walinska '56

The current exhibition presents works inspired by the three most significant influences in Anna Walinska's life -- her studies in Paris in the 1920s, an extended stay in Burma in the 1950s, and her identity as a Jewish New Yorker.


Walinska began art classes at the age of 12 in New York City in 1918, first at the National Academy of Design and soon thereafter at the Art Students League. She expressed disappointment that at a young age, she was not permitted to partake in life drawing classes.


Though her father wanted her to go to college, she was determined to pursue her artistic dreams and convinced her father's boss to sponsor a year in Paris, which turned into an adventure that lasted several years. Living on the Left Bank around the corner from Gertrude Stein, Walinska studied with Andre L'Hote and went almost daily to the Academie Colarossi to sketch. Sometimes she was her own model, both for simple line drawings and colorful self-portraits, like the one below executed in Paris. In the era of the Moveable Feast, her time was often spent in a circle of musicians who included Schoenberg and Poulenc.

Anna Walinska (American, 1906–1997), Self Portrait, c. 1928

Oil on unstretched canvas, 6 H. x 5 W. inches

Returning to New York in the 1930's, Walinska founded the Guild Art Gallery on West 57th Street, and there gave Arshile Gorky his first NYC solo exhibition. A drawing she did of him in 1936 is on display at the gallery, as is his drawing of her from the same year. Walinska executed a number of artist portraits, many of which are in museum collections today, including:

Arshile Gorky in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., and the Herbert Johnson Museum, Cornell University, Ithaca

Louise Nevelson in the Smithsonian National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., and Magnes Collection of Jewish Life & Art, Berkeley

Mark Rothko in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., and Magnes Collection of Jewish Life & Art, Berkeley

Self portraits at the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers; Jewish Museum, New York; and Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; Women's Studies Research Center, Brandeis, Waltham; Magnes Collection of Jewish Life & Art, Berkeley

Anna Walinska (American, 1906–1997), Gorky, 1936, pencil on paper

12 H. x 9 W. inches, signed lower left: Walinska '36

In the 1950s, she traveled the world for six months, most notably spending four months in Burma. While there, she made many portraits of dignitaries and diplomats, including several of then Prime Minister U Nu. She was also inspired by the people and the surrounding landscapes to create numerous abstracts, some of which are included in the current exhibition.


Also in the exhibition are works from her solo retrospectives at New York's Jewish Museum in 1957, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 1979 and a posthumous exhibition in 2000 at the Muzeum Ghetta at Theresienstadt, Czech Republic.

Paris Nude #93, 1929, 11 H. x 8 1/2 W. inches

Paris Nude #86, 1929, 11 H. x 8 1/2 W. inches

Paris Nude #39, 1929, 8 1/2 H. x 11 W. inches

Paris Nude #41, 1929, 8 1/2 H. x 11 W. inches

Anna Walinska (American, 1906–1997), Self Portrait, 1927, oil on paper

14 1/4 H. x 10 W. inches, signed lower left: Walinska '27

View Digital Catalog

Extended Exhibition Hours

Monday to Friday, 11am to 6pm. 

Saturdays, Noon to 5pm


17 East 67th Street, No. 1A

New York, NY 10065