SONIA GECHTOFF (American b. 1926), “Untitled”, Graphite Drawing, double sided, 60 ½” x 40 ½” (More)

Sonia Gechtoff

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Sonia Gechtoff relocated to the Bay Area in 1951 to attend the California School of Fine Arts. There she was exposed to prominent Abstract Expressionists such as Clyfford Still, Frank Lobdell, and Ernest Briggs. She married James Kelly and moved to the famous 2330 Fillmore Street building, next to the residence of Jay DeFeo, Wally Hedrick, and Michael Mclure. From 1957-58, Gechtoff taught at California School of Fine Arts.

Her first West Coast paintings were figurative, but in 1952 after metting Briggs, she launched into vigorous large scale abstracitons, featuring exuberent, looping lines. In many of her canvases she shows a sensuous, hedonistic affection for paint laid on in broad, juicy strokes. Like her husband, James Kelly, she often used a palette knife like a pastry knife, producing lustrous, glossy impastos on the canvas. Gechtoff admits that nature was a primary catalyst of feeling in the 1950s for her works. In the later 50s, she broadened her strokes into flickering, flame-like shapes with a torrential sweep recalling the work of Briggs.

In 1958, Gechtoff and Kelly moved to New York City and remained there. Her East-Coast exhibition venues included the Whitney Annual and the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh.

Selected  Collections

The Whitney Museum of American Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Baltimore Museum of Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Menil Collection
Laguna Art Museum
Montana Historical Society
Neuberger Museum of Art
The Carnegie Art Museum
Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1957 M.H. de Young Memorial Museum
1957 Ferus Gallery
1959 Poindexter Gallery
1974 Gallery One
1978 Gloria Cortella Gallery
1984 Witkin Galleries
1995 Skidmore College

Selected Group exhibitions

1954 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1958 The Whitney Museum of American Art
1958 Brussels World Fair
1960 Walker Art Center
1960 The Whitney Museum of American Art
1961 Museum of Modern Art, New York
1966 University of Texas, Austin
1975 Phoenix Art Museum
1976 Newport Harbor Art Museum
1976 Smithsonian Institute
1977 Museum of Modern Art, New York
1977 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
1987 California Palace of the Legion of Honor
1991 Schick Art Gallery
1996 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
2001 Worchester Art Museum