The colours of life

2011-12-21 Vatican Radio

The Rome-based artist, writer and art critic Edith Schloss has died at her home near Piazza Navona.

She was incredibly active right to the end, and at the time of her death on Tuesday, had been working hard to prepare an exhibition entitled “The Painted Song” to be inaugurated at Rome’s “Home of Literature” on Wednesday evening.

The exhibition will go ahead. Instead of Edith reading from her writing as scheduled, one of her many friends and admirers will read in her place. The exhibition will represent a first tribute to an artist who has left an indelible mark on the contemporary art scene.

The largest body of her work is represented by oil paintings, collages, watercolours, drawings and sketches, but since the 1940s, in New York and in Rome, Edith’s vision led her to experiment with avant-garde techniques and ideas setting the stage for many to come.

Edith was a prolific artist and her works brim with colour, movement, energy, light, passion and life. In recent years a dominant theme of her work is dominated by Greek mythology. Timeless stories with pressing themes and passionate emotions shine through the rich oils and the delicate watercolours.

An article by Giovanna Dunmall about Edith Schloss narrates that when Edith first started frequenting the art world “she was a friend of many abstract expressionists but was always protesting against what was fashionable or "politically correct," struggling to find her true voice, her true style. She became less abstract and more figurative at a time when the action painters were becoming dogmatic about their abstraction. She started to write reviews for Tom Hess's Art News magazine. (Later she was to be the International Herald Tribune's art critic for Italy for almost twenty years.)

In 1961 the Museum of Modern Art showed a box assemblage she had made. Boxes were deemed "okay" by the action painters, as they represented an avant-garde technique. Meanwhile, her figurative painter self remained firmly in the closet. Now that the artist is in her eighties, her work on canvas is almost abstract again. As before, she is motivated by a need to "scoop shapes and colors" from the world, to satisfy a boundless curiosity. At one point, she tells me that being wrong is not so important, so long as you are enthusiastically wrong”.

Linda Bordoni spoke to an old friend of Edith Schloss’. He is Peter Rockwell, sculptor and historian of the techniques of stone-carving who remembers Edith the artist, the art critic and friend…

Listen to the interview…