Who Was Charmion von Wiegand and Why Is She Important? – ARTnews.com


What would she do if she could do anything, Charmion von Wiegand’s psychoanalyst asked her in 1927. “Why, paint, of course,” she answered. When he asked why she wasn’t doing that, she lamented, “It’s too late in life to be a painter.” At the time, Von Wiegand was a 31-year-old writer living in Connecticut who had already started establishing herself as a journalist. She would still write, mostly about art and social issues, for a few more decades. But despite what she told her analyst, she started painting around then as well.

She created landscapes at first, and ultimately geometric abstractions that incorporated Asian iconography, especially Buddhist symbols. Now her first institutional solo exhibition in more than 40 years, at the Kunstmuseum Basel, displays the full breadth of her work.

“Her different phases of working look quite different from each other, which I think is part of the reason she’s been quite overshadowed as an artist,” says Maja Wismer, the exhibition curator and head of contemporary art at Kunstmuseum Basel. “She didn’t develop that one signature style. You can really trace the different phases.”

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