Major new study celebrates the career and legacy of trailblazing artist and educator Luise Kaish

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Major new study celebrates the career and legacy of trailblazing artist and educator Luise Kaish
Frederick the Great, 1961. Bronze, 39 7/8 × 39 7/8 × 7 1/2 in. 101.3 × 101.3 × 19.1 cm. Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Container Corporation of America.

NEW YORK, NY.- Luise Clayborn Kaish (1925–2013) was a pioneer. A key figure in the New York art scene of the late 20th century, her multidisciplinary practice and process-oriented work spanned a range of mediums, materials, techniques, and themes. The strength and breadth of her work—monumental sculptures in bronze, oil paintings, watercolors, lithographs, collage—and the prestigious awards and fellowships she received set her apart as an early female leader in the visual arts. The publication Luise Kaish: An American Art Legacy celebrates her immense talent, highly individual point of view, far-reaching influence, pursuit of the sublime, and passion for life.

Dedicated to absorbing world cultures through travel and research, Kaish studied a broad range of subjects from architecture, design, and engineering to spiritualism, metaphysics, and the cosmos. Through her wide-ranging practice, she explored the spaces and connections between material, natural, and spiritual worlds. For her commissions for Jewish and Christian sanctuaries, she considered traditional representations and created new interpretations imbued with religious meaning and emotional power.

A dedicated educator whose teachers included renowned sculptor Ivan Meštrović and muralist Diego Rivera, Kaish served as a Professor and Chair of Columbia University’s painting and sculpture division (1980-86). Among the first women to be awarded the American Academy of Rome Prize, she served as a Trustee (1975-1981). In 1993, she was appointed Professor Emerita of Columbia’s Faculty of Art. Embracing innovative teaching and learning methods and inviting artists to interact with students, she was equally committed to her work in the studio and classroom.

The contributors to Luise Kaish: An American Art Legacy—leading experts in the field—examine different aspects of Kaish’s extraordinary output and prolific career as she experimented with scale, materials, colour, texture, abstraction, and figuration in ground-breaking ways.

Building on a lifetime dedication to her craft and whole-hearted embrace of an artistic life, this book presents a vibrant picture of a woman ahead of her time.

Kaish’s work is held in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Jewish Museum, and many other institutions, including the Syracuse University Art Museum and in private collections. Her work has been featured in numerous important exhibitions including a mid-career retrospective at the Jewish Museum in 1973 and three Whitney Biennials. This volume brings together the majority of her works including 103 plates and compelling photographs of the artist at work.

Scholars, students, curators, museums, and collectors will find the appendix, illustrated chronology, and exhibition history of particular value.


• Maura Reilly is a curator and arts writer, based in New York

• Gail Levin is Distinguished Professor of Art History, American Studies, Women’s Studies, and Liberal Studies at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

• Daniel Belasco is Executive Director of the Al Held Foundation, New York

• Samuel D. Gruber is visiting Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, Cornell University

• Eleanor Heartney is a contributing editor for Art in America

• Norman L. Kleeblatt is a fine art curator, critic, and consultant based in New York, and was the Susan and Elihu Rose Chief Curator at the Jewish Museum in New York until 2017

• Roger Lipsey is a biographer, art historian, editor, and translator

• Vanja Malloy is Director and Chief Curator of the Syracuse University Art Museum

“Beautifully designed and illustrated, lavishly produced, with both scholarly essays and archival family photographs, this vivid biography not only tells an important story but explains and shows in detail and close-up her many pieces of public art. It confirms her place as a key figure in the New York arts of the late 20th century.”— Clare Henry, FRSA, in Artlyst, December 9, 2020

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