1903 Dnipro, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine.
1988 New York



“… Art is the most complex, vitalizing, and civilizing of human activities. It is a biological necessity.”

Helen Gerardia


1903   Birth of Helen Gerardia on December 15, in Dnipro, Ukraine

1921   Sets foot in the USA on January 7, and settles in New York

1925   First grade art teacher at a New York public school

1945-1947   Pupil at the Art Students League of New York with Nahum Tschacbasov

1947-1948   Is taught by Hans Hofmann in his School of Fine Arts in New York

1948-1950    Attends the Brooklyn Museum Art School

1952 Takes a sabbatical leave. Attends the Woodstock Gallery Workshop. Is invited to the Research Studio Art Centre at Maitland Florida

1952 First one-person show in Maitland Florida. Her star rises

1953 One-person show at Rudolph Galleries in July

1957 First one-person show at the Bodley Gallery. David Mann the director of this prestigious New York gallery will represent her and promote her work until the early 1970s

1957 Wins the prestigious Quinto Maganini Award (in all she will win over 42 awards and prizes)

1967-1969 President of the American Society of Contemporary Artists, New York

1972-1974 President of the National Association of Women Artists, Inc., Brooklyn NY

1988   Helen Gerardia dies August 5, in New York


Migration has long existed and is everywhere. It nurtures the country one immigrates to. What would the Netherlands be today without the Portuguese Jews who decided to settle in Amsterdam in the 16th century, fleeing from the cruelties of the Spanish Inquisition? And can one imagine American avant-garde without the Europeans who managed to escape from famine, pogroms and Nazis in the first half of the 20th century? From Hans Hofmann to Walter Gropius, from Lyonel Feininger to Arshile Gorky: the list is long. And it offers hope.                                                                                                                            Young Helen has the courage to leave her home country, Ukraine. She arrives at Ellis Island to set foot on American soil on January 7, 1921, at just 18 years old. To make a living, the art obsessed young woman works and studies hard to become a first-grade art teacher at a New York public school. A single female, she dedicates this part of her life to explaining, promoting and underlining the necessity of art to her pupils, teaching them with passion. As the decades pass, she increasingly feels that this vocation does not satisfy her completely, since her own creative energy is boiling over. In the 1940s, she takes lessons at the Art Students Leagueunder Nahum Tschacbasov, is taught at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts and attends the Brooklyn Museum Art School whenever she is free.                                                                  Is her path written in the stars, the moon or another astral body that has fascinated her throughout her life? In 1952, this art teacher gets the chance of a lifetime. Public School 147, where she works, allows her to take sabbatical leave. From then on, she dedicates her life to producing art, daily and nightly, as it is in her blood. Helen Gerardia, painter and graphic artist, at 48 years old, is reborn.                                                                                                    Her star rises fast. She is coined “a purist painter” and described as “outstanding in design as well as in color.” Howard Devree, an art critic for the New York Times, praises in 1953 the “well-knit structure” in her work. Charles Mulligan writes of her that same year: “Helen Gerardia, schoolteacher and brilliant imaginative of the semi-abstract.” And James Johnson Sweeney, director of The Guggenheim Museum shows his appreciation of her work in a letter dated January 9, 1956: “I enjoyed the opportunity to see your paintings and am interested in your explorations of the compositional effects of faceted perspective.” By now, the former school-teacher is en vogue.                                                                                                                           1957 is another important year in Helen’s career as an artist. David Mann, director of the Bodley Gallery in New York (who also exhibited young Andy Warhol, Max Ernst and Yves Tanguy) takes her under his wing. From this year on, the Bodley Gallery hosts several one-person shows in their premises and organizes exhibitions in museums, galleries, libraries and universities all over the country and abroad, with success. Eight years later, director David Mann proudly mentions in a small catalogue by the occasion of her one-person show in March 1965: “Helen Gerardia has had until now 26 one-man museum exhibitions, 125 one-man shows in 50 states of the US, participated in 27 group exhibitions in 17 foreign countries and received 42 awards for her paintings and graphics.” In 1967, Art News writes in its March edition: “Helen Gerardia is an industrious artist, and hardly a day goes by that one of her prints or paintings fails to go on view or win a prize in some corner of the country.” Industrious she is. At this time, she not only paints and executes lithographs and etchings, but also is president of the American Society of Contemporary Artists, gives lectures, and teaches in the Gerardia Workshop.                                                                                                                                    In 1972, she has her last one-person show at the Bodley Gallery, and in 1974, she resigns as president of the National Association of Women Artists and as treasurer of the Audubon Artists. Art historian Kara Kuchemba, in her contribution in “20th Century American Women Artists,” published in Carlisle 1999, states: “Gerardia became most well-known for her works created between 1952 and 1972.” Indeed, little is known about her creative work after 1972. At that time, the New York based lawyer Samuel Sumner Goldberg, a devoted patron of writers and painters and a fervent collector of her paintings and graphics, starts donating his Helen Gerardia works to US museums and colleges. She soon follows in his footsteps, offering her paintings to colleges and museums for free, preoccupied as she is with her artistic legacy.                                                                                                                                          On August 5, 1988, the modest power woman from Dnipro, who dedicated her life fully to the arts, dies in New York, forgotten.


(one-person shows unless stated otherwise}

New York, Village Art Center, 1949 (with others)

New York, Eighth Street Playhouse, 1951

New York, Argent Galleries, 1951

New York, Whitney Museum Annual, 1952 (with others)

Maitland FL, Research Studio Art Centre, March 1952, 1953, 1957, 1959, 1961

Key West FL, Fort East Martello Gallery, March 1953 (with others)

Woodstock NY, Rudolph Galleries, July 1953, 1955

New York, Riverside Museum, November 1953 (with others)

New York, Lynn Kottler Gallery, January/ February 1954 (with others)

Albany NY, Institute of History and Art, 1955

Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, “National Association of Women Artists,” 1956 (with others)

(travelling further to Brussels, Ostend, Bern and Berlin)

New York, Bodley Gallery, March 1957, April 1959, October 1961, November 1963, March 1965, October 1968, 1972

New York, Congress for Jewish Culture, 1957 (with others)

New York, “Vectors Art Exhibition,” Kaufmann Art Gallery, October 1957 (with Libbie Mark and others)

Orono MA, University of Maine, February 1957

Nashville TN, Museum of Art, October 1957

New Canaan CT, Silvermine Guild Arts Center, 1957

New York, “Vectors Art Exhibition,” Women’s City Club of New York, December 1959 (with others)

New York, Chautauqua Women’s Club, 1960

Columbus OH, Columbus Museum of Art, 1962, 1967

Miami FL, Museum of Modern Art, 1962, 1967

Terre Haute IN, Swope Art Museum, 1963

Santa Ana CA, Charles W. Bowers Memorial Museum, June 1963

Hagerstown MD, Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, 1964

New York, Society of Women Artists, December 1965 (with others)

New York, Audubon Artists, January 1966 (with others)

New York, “Annual Exhibition,” National Association of Women Artists, 1966

New York, Fordham University, April 1967

New York, “26th Annual Exhibition,” Audubon Artists, January 1968 (with others)

Oakridge TE, Oak Ridge Art Center, July 1970

Rock Island ILL, Augustana Fine Arts Board, September 1970

Austin TX, Blanton Museum of Art, “Line Form Color: About the Rotation,” December 2017 – March 2018 (with Ellsworth Kelly, Hans Hofmann, Max Bill and others)

Greensboro NC, “Double Edged: Geometric Abstraction Then and Now,” Weatherspoon Art Museum, May- August 2019 (with Josef Albers, Al Held and others)


Howard Devree in: the New York Times, July 12, 1953

Ady Danzak in: the Chelsea-Clinton News, March 12, 1953

Dorothy B. Gilbert editor “Who’s Who in American Art,” 1956

West Side News, April 5, 1956

Art News, March 1957

“Who‘s Who of American Women,”, 1958

The Sunday Herald, July 2, 1959

Art Voices, November 1963

The American Statesman, November 15, 1964

“Helen Gerardia”, Bodley Gallery, March 1965 (sales catalogue)

“The Art Collector’s Almanac,“ no. 1, 1965

Margaret Harold “Prize-winning Art”, Book 3, 1965

Minna Citron in: Book III Prize-Winning Graphics, 1965

Gordon Brown “The New Look in Art” in: Art Voice Quarterly, Spring 1965

The Charleston Gazette, November 1966

Betsy Polier in: Arts Magazine, September/October 1968

Margaret Herold “Prize-Winning Art”, Book 7, 1969

Kara Kuchemba and others “20th Century American Women Artists”, Carlisle 1999

“Women’s Work, a Century of Art by Women”, Wyoming Art Museum 2007



The Woodstock Artists Association, Woodstock NY

The Brooklyn Society of Artists, New York

The American Color Print Society, Philadelphia PA

The Philadelphia Print Club, Philadelphia PA

The National Arts Club, New York

The National Association of Women Artists, Inc., Brooklyn, NY (president 1972-1974)

The Silvermine Guild of Artists, New Canaan CT

The Audubon Artists, New York (treasurer 1972-1974)

The Village Art Center, New York

The Audubon Artists Equity (board member 1965)

The Society of American Graphic Artists (board member 1965)

The American Society of Contemporary Artists, New York (president 1967-1969)

The New York Society of Women Artists, New York

The Corporation of Yaddo, Saratoga Springs NY

The Artists Equity Association, New York

The Arts Students League, New York

The Society of Young American Artists

The National Society of Painters in Casein, New York

The League of Present Day Artists, New York

The Associated American Artists, New York

The Vectors, New York



Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC

Brooklyn Museum, New York

Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati OH

Fogg Museum, Harvard MA

Evansville Museum of Arts, Evansville IN

Dartmouth College, Hanover NH

Davenport Municipal Art Center, Davenport IA

Georgia Museum of Art, Athens GA

Rahr-West Art Museum, Manitowoc WI

Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown OH

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Research Studio Art Center, Maitland FL

Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro NY

Peabody Museum, Nashville TN

McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture, Nashville TN

Andrew Dickson White Museum of Art, Ithaca NY

Miami Museum of Modern Art, Miami FL

Bat Yam Museum, Bat Yam Israel

Montana Museum of Art and Culture, Missoula MT

Kennedy Museum of Art, Athens OH


“… My work can be called semi-abstract. Though the paintings have abstract designs, there is subject matter in all of them.”

Helen Gerardia in: the Catskill Mountain Star, 17 July 1953

“… I use pure intense color at times with black lines which project beyond the picture if mentally prolonged. “

Helen Gerardia

“… The law of simultaneous contrasts plays a role. Light appears lighter when juxtaposed beside dark.”

Helen Gerardia

“… In Helen Gerardia we have a performer in the abstract idiom. The artist is not concerned with identity as such, the interest is in color and space relationships.”

West Side News, April 5, 1956

“… One of the functions of the artist today is to record feelings and to give form and refinement and direction to the inner life of his contemporaries.”

Helen Gerardia

“… The work of this extremely intelligent artist has progressed steadily to the place of her present success and public acclaim.”

Minna Citron in: Book III Prize-Winning Graphics, 1965

“… Helen Gerardia deals with the commonest geometric forms. A straight line is probably her favorite even though all she can do with it is change its position, extend it or shorten it. With this unprepossessing material she creates excellent compositions.”

Art Voices, November 1963

“… My world is a world of deep night, blinding whites and brilliant color.”

Helen Gerardia

“… Ever since the first orbit I have been fascinated by the limitlessness of outer space. This resulted in a series of space themes.”

Helen Gerardia

“… My painting represents an inner truth, an aftermath of objective reality, refined by time, ripened by thought and edited by the artist.”

Helen Gerardia

“… I have always been interested in the play of light and its effect on form and color and in that other quality of light, the prismatic breaking up of color.”

Helen Gerardia

“… The artist is the maker of magic; the leader and prophet of his people, leading them to a better integration and understanding of themselves and a greater enjoyment of the fruits of their labor.”

Helen Gerardia

“… My painting is not representational but a result of what I feel and imagine.”

Helen Gerardia

“… Helen Gerardia, well-known painter of New York and Woodstock, is an exponent of the semi-abstract stemming from the cubism of Jean Metzinger and Fernand Léger.”

J.G. in: Pictures on Exhibit, May 1963

“…My  paintings become a part of the great beyond, a fragment of the awesome world we live in, an adventure in time and space.”

Helen Gerardia

All 90 works reproduced in this catalogue have been checked, framed, photographed, numbered, stamped at the back and included in a database. Most works derive from the Estate of Helen Gerardia through Ronald Borsack, New York, the art dealer who oversaw her estate. A few are from American Auctions, art dealers and collectors. These provenances are specifically mentioned. This database serves as the beginning of a catalogue raisonné and aims to eradicate any doubt of authenticity. Needless to mention that all paintings will be sold with a certificate of authenticity (including a photo of the work with the number, description and any other relevant information written on the back).                                                                           Helen Gerardia called her work semi-abstract. “Though the paintings have abstract designs,” she wrote, “there is subject matter in all of them.” It is therefore believed that she gave each work a title. Since she used a certain composition several times, in casein, oil, acrylic, lithograph or in etching, few titles remain outstanding. As of now, there are 79; the 11 untitled works have been named Composition.

Although well known in the US in the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s, Helen Gerardia is today a somewhat forgotten artist. But change is in the air. There is now much more interest in female artists, and the demand for equal treatment of all painters, regardless of their gender, has finally been granted. Helen Gerardia featured recently in two important group exhibitions. In 2017, the Blanton Museum of Art organized “Line Form Color: About the Rotation,”, a group exhibition where she featured alongside Ellsworth Kelly, Hans Hofmann and others. And, in 2019, her work was shown alongside that of Josef Albers, Al Held and others in the group show “Geometric Abstraction: Then and Now,” at the Weatherspoon Art Museum. These important retrospective group exhibitions in which her work was included, mark only the beginning of her revival.                                                                                                                                     It is hoped that this introductory catalogue will be followed by a more profound, art historical study by American or Ukrainian theorists, so that in time Helen Gerardia will have the place in Ukrainian and American postwar modern art that she deserves.


Some extracts from: Guus Maris “Helen Gerardia. An Introduction”, Nieuw Vennep 2023 (sales catalogue)