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Identity, Imagination, and Science: Helene Lundeberg’s Surrealism

April 11, 2018 @ 4:30 pm

Lecture by CWAH Senior Scholar Ilene Fort

During the early 1930s, far from Paris and New York, Helen Lundeberg became the first woman painter in the United States to specialize in the European aesthetic of Surrealism. In a group of symbolic and actual self-portraits, she explored her identity, often in the context of the larger universe. Time and place encouraged her fascination with science, especially astronomy, as the planet Pluto was discovered in 1930 and she grew up in Pasadena, nearby the Mount Wilson Observatory, one of the finest in the world with three major telescopes. Beginning with the Zimmerli’s own Lundeberg painting, Self Portrait of 1944, Dr. Fort will demonstrate how Lundeberg envisioned herself within the cosmos and how she continued painting outer space even after she abandoned Surrealism for hard-edge painting.

Dr. Ilene Susan Fort, formerly Senior Curator of American Art, and The Gail and John Liebes Curator of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), is now Curator Emerita at LACMA and Senior Scholar at the Center for Women in the Arts and Humanities at Rutgers University, 2018 – 2019. She has organized exhibitions and written on a wide range of subjects, most recently on women and Surrealism, including In Wonderland (2012) and the first posthumous retrospective on Helen Lundeberg (2016) as well as several articles on Lundeberg and Juanita Guccione (2018).  She is presently organizing a retrospective on Kay Sage and undertaking research on abstract Surrealism and women after World War II.

This program is co-organized by the Center for Women in the Arts and Humanities and the Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University with additional support from the Associate Vice President for Strategic Initiatives in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Endowment Fund at the Zimmerli Art Museum.

Reception to follow:

The CWAH Senior Scholar program brings scholars engaging in range of activities including research, collaborations, publications, and other scholarly projects with exemplary and sustained contributions in their field to Rutgers for a short campus residency during which time they research and give a lecture to Rutgers faculty and students.




April 11, 2018
4:30 pm
Event Category:


Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum
71 Hamiliton Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901 United States