Vera Klement, painter who saw both beauty and evil, dies at 93


As she continued to work in New York – and, after 1964, Chicago – her paintings eventually embraced representational art again – and sometimes combined the two.

In the 1970s, she became an activist in the art world as a founding member of the Five, a group of abstract artists who worked together to organize exhibitions of huge works in the lobbies of Chicago buildings, and active member of the Artemisia gallery. , a feminist cooperative there.

She then began teaching at the University of Chicago, where she remained a respected faculty member until 1995.

“Vera taught me that a painter must balance craft and ideas: too many skills and a painting is boring, too conceptual and a painting is bloodless,” wrote Joanne Berens, a former student, in an e- email. “Although her own ideas came from European high culture, Vera was never a snob and encouraged her students to express ideas from their own lives.”

Ms. Klement received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1981.

In addition to her son, she is survived by her life partner, Peter Baker, a retired pediatrician. His marriages with Werner Torkanowskyviolinist and conductor, and Ralph Shapeycomposer and conductor, ended in divorce.

In 2019, Ms. Klement created “Carpeted,” an abstract expressionist painting depicting a flying carpet. When this was done, she retired.

“She was slowing down and doing fewer and fewer paintings,” said her son, Mr. Shapey. “She wasn’t short of ideas. But she looked at him and said, ‘I said everything I wanted.’


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