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Claire Falkenstein

American
(1908–1998)

Untitled
1940

Oil on canvas
15 x 12 in. (38.1 x 30.48 cm)
Gift of Rachael Dunaven Yocom
1987.298

Known for her ability to manipulate metal and glass into flowing and seemingly flexible structures, Falkenstein’s sculptures provide commentary on contemporary issues, natural occurring phenomena, and abstract notions of space and time. This series of Untitled works showcase her early experiments in modernism, which art historian Susan M. Anderson characterized as “biomorphic abstraction with a surrealist edge.”

Born in Oregon in 1908, Falkenstein pursued her Bachelors of Art with minors in Anthropology and Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, completing it in 1930. Continuing her education, Falkenstein studied at Mills College, where she worked under Alexander Archipenko, and collaborated with fellow artists including Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Gyorgy. In addition to making art, Falkenstein taught at University of California Berkeley, Extension, Mills College, California Labor School and the California School of Fine Arts where she met and worked alongside with artists Clyfford Still and Richard Diebenkorn who became close friends and strong artistic influences with their abstract expressionist styles. In 1934, Falkenstein began creating large-scale commissioned pieces that continued to be central throughout her career.


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