Cleo Hartwig

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Cleo Hartwig's classic body of work includes sculpture in stone, wood, terra cotta, plaster, and ceramic. She belongs to the tradition of direct carvers (taille direct) who carved straight into their materials, without the use of intermediary steps. With this approach, the artist's conception and execution is influenced by the density, veining, color, and shape of the material. Hartwig is part of a distinguished line of 20th century direct carvers, including artists such as Jose de Creeft, whom she studied with, and Vincent Glinsky, her late husband.

Hartwig also belongs to the generation who broke ground in the 1930s and 1940s in advancing opportunities for women artists. She was an early member of the National Association of Women Artists (eventually serving as Vice President), and also was part of the New York Society of Women Artists (eventually serving as Recording Secretary). She is regarded as a member of The New York School (Rubinstein, American Women Artists, 1982), and her work was featured in the TV documentary, Women of the First Wave; Elders of the Century. Her papers are archived at the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art and her works are in such collections as:

*Newark Museum, NJ
*Montclair Art Museum, NJ
*National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, D.C.)
*National Academy of Design
*Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
*Brookgreen Gardens,, SC
*Detroit Institute of Arts
*Southern Vermont Art Center
*All Faiths Memorial Tower (now George Washington Memorial Park), NJ
*Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA
*Lenox Hill Hospital, NY, Children's Pavilion
*Mount Holyoke College, MA
*State University of New York at Oswego
*Western Michigan University
*Smithsonian Institution

"Her carvings from the 1930s and early 1940s are characterized by compact, massive forms, crisp outlines, and minimal details. In their blockiness, extreme simplification of shape, and coarse surfaces they especially echo Mesoamerican sculpture." --LA Museum of Art catalog, 1995. Above: Child Asleep, 1937

Cleo Hartwig was born in Webberville, Michigan on October 20, 1907. As a young girl, she led nature tours of plant and animal life. Her devotion to the natural world was to become a seminal force in her art, influencing her subject matter and shaping her style.

Hartwig spent two summers studying at the Chicago Institute of Art, before graduating with an A.B. from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. She then traveled widely, spending summers studying art in Europe (Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Germany, and France) and Mexico. Her Mexican travels and her study of the Spanish language had a strong impact on her figurative work.

Settling in New York City in 1936, Hartwig began to exhibit yearly with the National Association of Women Artists, the New York Society of Women Artists, Sculptors Guild, National Sculpture Society, New York Society of Ceramic Artists, and Audubon Artists. She taught art at The Town School, The Lenox School, and Ecole Francaise, and resided in the picturesque Greenwich Village mews, Patchin Place, historic home to many of the famous artists, poets, and writers of the 20th century.

During World War II Hartwig did drafting work for Bell Telephone Laboratories (1942-45) and technical illustrating for the Jordanoff Aviation Corp (1943-45). During those years she also had her first solo show at the Clay Club in New York. The show brought together her talents as a sculptor, a naturalist, and a ceramist. It included 29 works, ranging from abstract and figurative pieces to her beloved nature forms, including animals (frog, mouse, hen), insects (flea, louse, moth), and even a glazed terra cotta bird bath.

In 1945 Hartwig won the National Association of Women Artists' Anna Hyatt Huntington Prize. That same year she also became a sculpture instructor at Cooper Union in New York and the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey. In addition, she completed an important work for the architect Kenneth B. Norton: a "Family Group" for the Continental Casualties Building on Williams St. in downtown Manhattan. For that commission Hartwig created an 8-foot-high bas-relief of a mother, father, and child, which was cast in aluminum and installed over the entranceway to the building.

By 1947 Hartwig was ready to present a second solo show. This exhibit featured an impressive set of 27 works, again including her signature mix of animal and figurative pieces. By then her works were owned by the Newark Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, and private collections, and had been shown at such venues as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Denver Art Museum, Chicago Art Institute, Nebraska Art Association, and National Academy.

In 1951 Cleo Hartwig married the Russian sculptor, Vincent Glinsky. Their son, Albert Glinsky, was born the following year. The uniquely compatible husband-wife partnership of Hartwig and Glinsky was documented by Enid Bell in a feature article published in American Artists magazine.

The 1960s saw Hartwig exhibiting in unique venues such as the 1964 New York World's Fair and outdoor shows at Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan. Reproductions of her works were offered for sale by Sculpture Collectors, Collectors Guild, and Alva Museum Replicas, which also commissioned her to create new works for reproduction. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s she continued to exhibit regularly in group shows, in addition to solo exhibitions at the Montclair Art Museum, Harmon-Meek Gallery (FL), the Sculpture Center, and SUNY Plattsburgh.

American Artist Magazine (1968), described Hartwig's, "unhurried
process of reduction with bush hammers, chisels, and rasps. She
prefers this equipment to power tools which, because of their
mechanical impetus, are alien to contemplation, tending to propel the
user into the fatality of doing too much too soon." Above, the artist
working on "Nesting Pelican" (Tennessee Marble).

Sculptor Renata Manasse Schwebel remembers Hartwig for both a generosity of spirit and a quiet resolve: "When you met her, you thought she was a very shy, little birdie of a person. Underneath it, if you ever tried to change her mind, she was total stainless steel." Above photo, Sculptors Guild catalog (from Hofstra University show, 1990), dedicated to the memory of Cleo Hartwig

Cleo Hartwig died on June 18, 1988 in New York. A tireless advocate for the arts, her 1988 New York Times obituary noted: "She was known among her colleagues as a woman who shunned the limelight herself but was a fervid supporter of other artists' careers." Her work with arts organizations included:

*Audubon Artists: Vice President for Sculpture, Exhibition Committee

*National Association of Women Artists: Vice President and early member

*Sculptors Guild: Exec. Director (1976); Exec. Board Member, Exec. Vice-Pres.

*National Sculpture Review: Editorial Board

*National Sculpture Society: Exhibition Committee Chairman, Membership Committee, Member of Council

*Sculpture Center: Council, Board of Trustees; Vice Pres. (1976-77)

*National Academy of Design: School Committee; Chairman of Sculptors Invitation Committee for Annual Exhibitions

*Board of Education: City of New York (1963-71), Sculpture representative

*NYC Art Commission: Sculptor representative, 1971

*New York Society of Women Artists: Recording Secretary

*Society of Animal Artists: Membership Jury

*New York Society of Ceramic Artists: Sculpture Jury










Cleo Hartwig

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