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Hilla Rebay

b. 1890, Strasbourg, Germany
d. 1967, Westport, Connecticut

Hilla Rebay was an abstract artist, proponent of non-objective art in the United States, and a co-founder of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art. Rebaywas born into a German aristocratic family in Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine. She first studied at the Cologne Kunstgewerbeschule and later attended the Académie Julian in Paris, where she studied figurative painting. Rebay returned to Germany in 1910, whereshe began to develop her interest in modern art under the influence of Jugendstilpainter Fritz Erler. In 1912, she participated in her first exhibition at the Cologne Kunstvereinand the following year was shown alongside Alexander Archipenko, Constantin Brancusi, Marc Chagall, at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris. She met Jean Arp in 1915, who introduced her to the non-objective art of Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Franz Marc, and Rudolf Bauer. Rebay’s work became increasingly abstract, as she aimed to depict expressions of a spiritual nature devoid of ties to the external world in her collages and non-objective paintings. Rebay moved to the United States in 1927, and quickly became an established figure in New York City. After painting a portrait of Solomon R. Guggenheim, Rebay became his close friend and art advisor, particularly encouraging him to purchase non-objective art. She eventually served as the first curator and director of his Museum of Non-Objective Painting, later renamed the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Rebay is also responsible for commissioning Frank Lloyd Wright to design the iconic building that houses the museum.