NOTE: It is with great feeling that we say: On October 25, 2017 Dorothy Koppelman—artist, Aesthetic Realism consultant, founding director of the Terrain Gallery, and one of the most important women in cultural history—died at the age of 97. We thank her profoundly and with love, as will people everywhere in all the years to come.
Keen original perception, courage, strength of mind, and deep human sympathy characterized both her life and her art. Studying Aesthetic Realism with its founder, Eli Siegel, beginning in 1942, she saw its truth and tremendous value, and wanted people everywhere to be able to learn what he explained: “All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.”
As she studied Aesthetic Realism, her work as a painter became among the finest produced in America in the 20th century.
We greatly treasure her straightforward, down-to-earth, subtle, deep, kind seeing—as a consultant, a teacher of the Critical Inquiry class for artists, and an invaluable, irreplaceable friend and colleague. It is our intention that the vision impelling her life—a world made kinder, more just, and beautiful through the study of Aesthetic Realism—become a reality. Dorothy Koppelman enabled thousands of lives to become better, happier, more honest and expressed, including our own. Her beautiful effect goes on.
DOROTHY KOPPELMAN, painter, became the founding director of the Terrain Gallery in 1955, and was a consultant on the faculty of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation. She has shown at the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and at the Atlantic Gallery. Her work is in museum collections, among them the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Recipient of a Tiffany Grant, she is a member of the American Society of Contemporary Artists. She taught at the National Academy School of Art. The papers and sketchbooks of Dorothy and Chaim Koppelman are in the Archives of American Art.
For examples of Dorothy Koppelman’s paintings, click here.
She wrote this about her early study and how it led to the 1955 opening of the Terrain Gallery:
“After more than ten years of study, which included, in addition to attending Mr. Siegel‘s lectures on the poetry of the world, varied lectures on literature—English, French, etc.; and the lives of authors—(consider his brilliant literary achievement of explaining the meaning of all of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets!)—as well as in-depth study of the relation of art and life, first stated by Mr. Siegel as ‘The resolution of conflict in self is like the making one of opposites in art,’ I came to have a conviction and an impelling emotion. I saw Aesthetic Realism as true about art, about my own life, and about the lives and work of artists I knew and read about.
“I also saw in the circumstances of [his] weekly lectures, lessons of my own and others, personal and friendly meetings on various occasions, a person, a teacher, a man who, in every situation was always honest, always true to his own philosophy. He did not flatter, he did not pander, he did not compromise. He rated the desire to know, the desire to see, the achievement of that seeing and knowing as true success.
“Seeing Eli Siegel’s desire to know a person, any person, was the deepest and most beautiful experience in my life. In Aesthetic Realism lessons, which were cultural events based on the Socratic question and answer method, and to which many persons were invited as participants or guests, there was ‘the aesthetic criticism of self.’
“I was understood. And that understanding included my purpose, and the direction of my life’s ambition as an artist.
“With the encouragement and support of my colleagues—poets, artists, and intellectuals in various fields—I decided to open what came to be called the Terrain Gallery, where Aesthetic Realism in its variety and scope could be presented to the public.
“I had seen that the basic structure of opposites was the foundation not only of the visual arts but was a new and unprecedented means of relation of all the arts and humanities. I saw that the principles of Aesthetic Realism were indisputably true.
“The Terrain Gallery opened in 1955 with the publication of the great 15 Questions, Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites? and exhibitions and public presentations essentially based on these true-seeing-of-art-and-beauty-in-the-world questions continue to this day. Much has happened in these fifty years; and every event in my varied life, and in the events of the world has solidified and widened my conviction. I believe that it is every person’s ambition to be able to find something in the outside world we can wholeheartedly respect intellectually and count on.That has been my life’s good fortune.”
A further and detailed account of her career can be found in the dated lists below as well as in the biographical listings noted.
2017-2018 “The Value of Objects,” small and miniature prints by Dorothy and Chaim Koppelman, Terrain Gallery
2010-2011 “Painting Matters,” work by 9 contemporary painters, Terrain Gallery
2009-2010 “Surface & Depth—Contemporary Paintings,” group show of 7 artists, Terrain Gallery
2001-2007 Atlantic Gallery Group Exhibitions; American Society of Contemporary Artists (ASCA) Annuals; New York Artists Equity Association (NYAEA) Invitationals
2006 “Day for Night,” Whitney Biennial 2006 Peace Tower (Whitney Musem, New York NY)
2004 Atlantic Gallery Group Exhibition (New York, NY)
2001, ’02, ’03 Atlantic Gallery, two and three person exhibitions; ASCA Annual exhibitions; NYAEA Invitationals
2001 Sarah Lawrence Gallery Invitational
2000 l75th Annual Juried Exhibition, National Academy of Design; Four-person show at Beatrice Conde Gallery, NYC
1999 Two-person show, Atlantic Gallery; ASCA Exhibition, Broome Street Gallery
1999 (’98, ’97) Mini Print travelling exhibitions, Art Gallery of Binghamton, NY
1998-97 American Society of Contemporary Artists; Atlantic Gallery; Audubon Juried Annuals, NYC
1996 Personal Visions, Chuck Levitan Gallery, NYC; Small Works Show, Washington Square Gallery, NYC
1995 Contemplating Cubism, American Prints, Susan Teller Gallery,
1994-l995 Audubon Artists Annual print exhibition;
1993 Cadavre Exquis, Drawing Center, NYC; Water Towers of New York City, Susan Teller Gallery
1992 165th Juried Biennial, National Academy of Design, Small Works Show, Washington Square East Gallery; Juried Annual, Allied Artists of America; A Grand Tour, Swiss Institute
199l, 1990, 1989 Annual exhibitions, Hudson Guild, NYC
1986 161st Juried Biennial, National Academy of Design, NYC
1985 “Woman/Self/Artist,” group exhibition, Terrain Gallery
1982-1967 Numerous group exhibitions; anti-Vietnam war exhibitions; March, Nonagon Galleries; D’Aenlle Gallery
1978 Mini-Print, postcard exhibition, P.S.l, Long Island City
1969 Two-person exhibition with Chaim Koppelman, Terrain Gallery
1965 Group Exhibition, Butler Art Institute, Youngstown, Ohio
1962 Group exhibitions: Brooklyn Museum; Jersey City Museum; Riverside Museum; Pratt Graphics Travelling exhibition; Prints included in Artist’s Proof
1962 “Recent Painting, USA: The Figure,” Museum of Modern Art, NYC; travelling to San Francisco Museum of Art; Columbus Gallery of Fine Art; Walker Art Center; Baltimore Museum, Colorado Springs Fine Art Center; City Art Museum of St. Louis–Painting, The Grip, reproduced in catalogue for exhibition, and in Emily Genauer review of exhibition in Herald Tribune.
1961 One-person exhibition, Terrain Gallery
Reviews: “Intensity of response characterizes each picture….By itself it has no power to make a picture good or bad. The fact that they are good as well as moving depends on the vitality of her touch and the strength of her color, both of which are out of the ordinary.” — S.Preston, NYTimes, 1961
“There is none of that collusion in suffering one often finds implicit elsewhere….Mrs. Koppelman [is] her own painterly mistress, well at ease.” Art News, 1961
1960 Four-person exhibition, Hudson Guild Gallery, NYC
1959-1955 Recent Painting, USA, Madison Square Garden; Group Exhibitions: Hansa, 10th Street Gallery, Intersection ’55, Terrain Gallery, NYC; One-person show, Rina Gallery, N.J. etc.
AWARDS AND COLLECTIONS
1999 Award for painting, American Society of Contemporary Artists
1996 Award for painting, American Society of Contemporary Artists Annual exhibition
1965 Tiffany Grant for painting
1957 Honorable Mention, City Center, Brooklyn Society of Artists
Collections : Hampton University, W. Va.; Yale University Art Collection; Gates Collection; Rosenzweig Museum, Durham, N.C.; Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia; Washington County Museum of Art, Hagerstown, Maryland; Library of Congress, New York Historical Society
Brooklyn College; American Artists School with Joseph Solman; Art Students League; Aesthetic Realism with founder, Eli Siegel; and with Chairman of Education Ellen Reiss
ASSOCIATIONS AND EDUCATIONAL AFFILIATIONS
1993-2017 New York Artists Equity; American Society of Contemporary Artists
1988-89; 1996; 1998 Faculty, National Academy School of Fine Art
1984-2017 Coordinator, Terrain Gallery
1972-1984 Co-Director, Terrain Gallery
1972-2017 Faculty, Aesthetic Realism Foundation
1961-1962 Director, Visual Arts Gallery, School of Visual Arts, NYC
1955-1972 Director, Terrain Gallery
See listings in: Who’s Who in American Art; Who’s Who in America; Who’s Who of American Women; Great Women of the Twentieth Century; Notable American Women; Who’ s Who in the World; Advisory Council; International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England
PUBLICATIONS & LECTURES
2011 Foreword to the reprinting of Eli Siegel’s book Damned Welcome: Aesthetic Realism Maxims.
2007 Guest Lecturer at the Fondazione Piero della Francesca, Sansepolcro, Italy
2003 31st World Congress of the International Society for Education Through Art (InSEA): presentation with co-author Carrie Wilson, “Aesthetic Realism Shows How Art Answers the Questions of Your Life.” Published in International Conversations Through Art, Teachers College, Columbia University
2002 Illustrator, Children’s Guide to Parents and Other Matters, by Eli Siegel. 2nd Edition.
2000 Poems and Prints, Artist’s Folio in limited signed edition
1999 “Art Opposes Injustice: Picasso’s Guernica – For Life,” Tennessee Tribune; “Opposites Are Picasso’s ‘Man With a Lamb,'” ASCA Newsletter
1971 Illustrator, Children’s Guide to Parents and Other Matters, by Eli Siegel. Definition Press.
1962 Recent Painting, USA: The Figure, Museum of Modern Art catalogue reproduced The Grip
Reviewer of Exhibitions for Washington Independent
Aesthetic Realism Seminars on Van Gogh, Whistler, Turner, Courbet, Cassatt, Hopper, Pollock, Chardin.
1969 Aesthetic Realism: We Have Been There, co-author with six artists and actors, Definition Press