Ida Kohlmeyer

Ida Kohlmeyer News: The New York Times | Showcasing the Diversity of the South, May  6, 2022 - Claudia Dreifus for The New York Times

The New York Times | Showcasing the Diversity of the South

May 6, 2022 - Claudia Dreifus for The New York Times

Arising from one man’s collection, the Ogden Museum strives to serve a broad audience while showing that Southern art is not merely regional.

NEW ORLEANS — A signature work at a recent exhibit at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art is a photograph of a cellphone showing on its screen the framed image of an antebellum mansion.

It is a photograph within a photograph. But what makes it an eye-catcher is that the pictured iPhone is clearly in the hand of a Black man, RaMell Ross.

Mr. Ross, an Oscar-nominated filmmaker, artist and photographer, often documents the people and land of Hale County, Ala.

Over the decades, some of the giants of Southern photography — Walker Evans, William Eggleston and William Christenberry — have made Hale County their subject. They are, of course, white men. By featuring this particular image, Mr. Ross and the curators of the Ogden are demonstrating their determination to show this place in a new way.


Mr. Ogden’s collection was broad. And huge. It documented almost every aspect of Southern art, from the colonial period through the present day. By the 1990s, he said, he owned at least 1,000 paintings, sculptures and photographs.

Among his treasures was a room-size work, a mural really, by the abstract expressionist Ida Kohlmeyer; vibrant scenes from Clementine Hunter, who spent her whole life on a plantation; a Sam Gilliam drape painting, and a work by Julian Onderdonk, a Texas landscape artist famous for his depictions of fields of bluebonnets. There were canvasses rolled up under the beds; the cupboards were full of Sophie Newcomb vases and George Ohr pottery. Continue Reading

Ida Kohlmeyer News: Artsy Viewing Room | Berry Campbell at Intersect Aspen: Women of Abstract Expressionism , July 21, 2021 - Artsy

Artsy Viewing Room | Berry Campbell at Intersect Aspen: Women of Abstract Expressionism

July 21, 2021 - Artsy

Berry Campbell at Intersect Aspen:
Women of Abstract Expressionism
Booth A15

Visit Viewing Room

Ida Kohlmeyer News: Ida Kohlmeyer on view at New Orleans Museum of Art, July 14, 2021 - New Orleans Museum of Art

Ida Kohlmeyer on view at New Orleans Museum of Art

July 14, 2021 - New Orleans Museum of Art

These symbols [in Ida Kohlmeyer’s work] exist as a kind of pictographic code, inviting us to try to decipher their meaning, but always evading any clear reference or easy interpretation...Her work feels like a code that we are never quite meant to crack.”⁠
—Katie A. Pfohl, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art⁠

This month, Ida Kohlmeyer’s painted aluminum sculpture Rebus 3D-89-3 returns to the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, newly refreshed from structural repairs and brandishing a brand new coat of paint. The expert restoration—undertaken by Kohlmeyer’s longtime fabricator G. Paul Lucas of Lucas Limited in Louisburg, Kansas—brings the work back to its intended brilliancy and allows us to appreciate the work of one of Louisiana’s most influential and enigmatic abstract artists anew.

Kohlmeyer, a native New Orleanian, is nationally recognized for her vibrant abstract paintings and sculptures, which are among the most vanguard works of modern art made in New Orleans during the twentieth century. She is best known for her signature “cluster” compositions: large painted canvases divided into loose grids filled with vibrantly colored abstract shapes and forms that are at once abstract, linguistic, and deeply personal.

These symbols—either gridded on canvas or presented as freestanding sculptures—exist as a kind of pictographic code, inviting us to try to decipher their meaning, but always evading any clear reference or easy interpretation. Often titling her sculptures Rebus, a term that refers to a type of puzzle or “picture riddle” in which words are represented by combinations of pictures and letters, her work feels like a code that we are never quite meant to crack.

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Ida Kohlmeyer News: Tussle Magazine: Ida Kohlmeyer: Cloistered  at Berry Campbell, New York, May 20, 2020 - Jonathan Goodman for Tussle Magazine

Tussle Magazine: Ida Kohlmeyer: Cloistered at Berry Campbell, New York

May 20, 2020 - Jonathan Goodman for Tussle Magazine

This exhibition titled "Cloistered" by Ida Kohlmeyer at the Berry Campbell Gallery consists of paintings and sculptures from the late 1960s, before she turned to the hieratic abstractions of her later career. In some ways the paintings on show relate to abstract elements found in the art of Georgia O’Keeffe and Hilma af Klint (the early 20th century Swedish abstractionist); they consist of mostly diamond-shaped patterns, with a couple of circular compositions. Kohlmeyer was educated and taught at Tulane University in New Orleans; she studied in Provincetown in the middle Fifties with the German-born teacher and abstract painter Hans Hofmann. In the paintings available to us, we see distinguished, soft-edged nonobjective imagery, in which geometric forms become vehicles for understated emotion. The colors are softly muted, communicating the artist’s ability to transmit feeling through simple designs and quite hues.

While not exactly a serial art, this kind of abstraction builds its effects through repetition of forms from one painting to the next. The diamond-shaped designs hold our interest by building a narrowing focus into the very center of the paintings, which can contain different shapes often circles, but also crosses and slits. They offer a kind of artist’s vernacular; the shapes repeat themselves and create links joining one painting to another. As a result, the body of work joins individual voices to a communal process that asks Kohlmeyer’s audience to appreciate their cumulative effect. Thus, a particularly successful variation within unity occurs, full in keeping with a lot of painting being done at the time these works were made. The larger question, Does such repetitiveness add or detract from the experience of the work? This can be considered as something more theoretical--in the case of Kohlmeyer, the accomplishments brought about by such an approach are genuine, in part because the differences from one painting to the next which are large enough to enable us to see the works as individual efforts rather than as nearly identical compositions.

In “Cloistered” (1969), Kohlmeyer has painted a thin, mostly brown diamond with a thinner dark purple stripe re-enforcing the overall shape, inside of which is another diamond, outlined in white and surrounded by a haze of the same dark-purple color. Inside the confines of the white diamond is a thin, yellow-brown, vertically aligned lozenge, flanked on either side by purple and then dark-brown stripes--the same colors used to define the outer diamond. The title might well refer to the oval deep in the center of the painting; it might even convey something of the spiritual mood that exists in the work. Whatever the motivation for the painting is, the experience of Kohlmeyer’s effort is fully satisfying. It suggests, in abstract fashion, a place of refuge and solace. An untitled work, circa 1969, consists of a five-pointed star shape, within which is a white diamond with a circle in the middle. Outside this puzzle of shapes are found a pentangle of red paint, along with a pink area, following the form of the pentangle in a rough manner, linearly contained by a dark-brown line. Certainly, the star is abstract enough, but the image conveys a primal feeling not unaligned with the spirit.

Kohlmeyer’s shapes can hardly be seen as devotional, yet they are so basic as to be archetypal reworking of forms that may have had spiritual meaning in other, earlier cultures. In “Black Insert” (1968), we see a black diamond shape, in the middle of which is the vertical lozenge; this amalgam of forms is supported by quadrants of off white, defined by green stripes of middling width that outline the diamond. The green lines create a cross behind the diamond that does not in any way evoke a Christian aura. 

The possibility of external reference, beyond the abstract form, cannot be entirely dismissed. It would be a major mistake to see the works of art as intimating an atmosphere of piety. It is just that the forms in these completely abstract paintings are so archaic as to raise questions about their origins beyond the intentions of the artist. This happens inevitably. In “Suspended” (1968), we meet more rounded forms: a curving hourglass shape dominates the painting, with rows of undulating, differently colored lines embellishing the upper and lower register of the form. Outside this hourglass is a background of whitish, slate blue curved like a circle. Beyond that, there exists a green diamond, with four pinkish mauve triangles, one in each of the cardinal directions. Finally, a smudged light-yellow band follows the edge of the green diamond.

Ida Kohlmeyer News: The Brooklyn Rail: Ida Kohlmeyer: Cloistered, May 18, 2020 - William Corwin for The Brooklyn Rail

The Brooklyn Rail: Ida Kohlmeyer: Cloistered

May 18, 2020 - William Corwin for The Brooklyn Rail

Think of all the meanings, nuances, and implications embedded in the word “cloistered,” and they reside here in Ida Kohlmeyer’s series of that title, executed in the late 1960s and now on virtual view at Berry Campbell Gallery through May 23. The earliest of these works were produced in 1968, the same year Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey came out, and many of them have the wary and watchful quality of the monotonic computer HAL, which loses faith in its human chaperones in Stanley Kubrick’s iconic film.

In Kohlmeyer’s paintings, there is a protected conceptual space lying just below the surface of the canvas, under a layer of sparingly applied oil paint and graphite. This is the imaginary volumetric structure for most of Kohlmeyer’s imagery in this series: a somber interior zone peeks out through a central oculus, or blossoms in an undulating vegetal sprout. The relationship of painting to the viewer is reversed as the spectator is surveilled by an alien eye. Kohlmeyer paints this cloistered presence into her works with varying degrees of directness. Black Insert” (1968) simply presents a black diamond with a lightly incised rectilinear form floating, shadowy, within it. By contrast, the final painting in the show, Cloistered (1969), stares out obsessively from the back of the gallery. A cross is carefully etched on the lozenge of the eye, a detail that makes the viewer feel as if the painting broodingly judges them. Kohlmeyer's reclusive entities carry with them all the accompanying angst, sadness, concealment, and, at times, anger, that arise from an unwilling sequestration.

There’s also a more immediate structural interpretation: most of the works are geometric, but with relaxed hand-drawn lines, and play on the symmetry and proportion of medieval walled gardens—the literal cloister. The picture plane is quartered or in some cases halved, and has a central element that serves as a point of arrival for the vectors of the painting and attracts the eye of the viewer. In this central position, Kohlmeyer typically substitutes something dark and glowering for the babbling fountains and cheerful plantings most of us know from the Cloisters museum in Fort Tryon Park. Of the paintings on view, the most Kubrickian watcher of all is the bisected black cornea and dilated pupil of Cloister #5 (1968). But there are exceptions, and Kohlmeyer does occasionally traffic in less emotionally fraught effects. Cloistered #12 (c. 1969) culminates in a colorful black/blue and pink/yellow floret, while Suspended (1968), with its palette of bright grass greens, iris, and greenish yellow, is very upbeat, and seemingly Easter-themed, including a central egg-shaped form decorated with arcs and bands. Kohlmeyer’s sculptures are variations on the theme of the paintings, but play with the idea of multiplicity. Canvas stretched over wood, they are paintings moved off the wall and placed in space, toying with a front and back in three dimensions. Stacked #1 (1969), is a tower of three cubes, with fecund buds centered on each surface: the painting now overlooks the entire room like a cyborg lighthouse.

There are obvious relationships that can be drawn between Kohlmeyer’s paintings and human anatomy—eyes and other organs are most obvious. But the repetitive crosses and ecclesiastically-specific architectural titles reiterate a spiritual and symbolic subtext that moves beyond mere floral or organic models. It is hard to say what the message is—the works themselves, juxtaposing bright colors with a forlorn presence, may not have decided for themselves. Before she created the works on view at Berry Campbell, Kohlmeyer’s style was Abstract Expressionist, influenced by Rothko and Gorky. The artist also studied under Hans Hofmann in Provincetown in the mid-fifties. Her later work would go on to explore ideas of pattern and multiplicity—Berry Campbell offers a striking example of this period in Color Stripes (1980). The Cloister series and its auxiliary works seem to represent an interlude of sorts, during which the artist explored a closer, but riskier, engagement with the viewer. These paintings have a pathos to them, but never veer into the outright horror or fury of Lee Bontecou’s dark blank lacunae from the late 1950s and early 1960s. As with all series carried out over just a few years, it’s impossible to tell if Kohlmeyer could have continued to walk the fine line between gripping emotional connectedness and over-the-top sentimentality, but for this short span, she certainly pulled it off.

Ida Kohlmeyer News: Artist's Choice: Interconnected Launches Digitally, May  7, 2020 - Berry Campbell

Artist's Choice: Interconnected Launches Digitally

May 7, 2020 - Berry Campbell

Artist's Choice: Interconnected
May 7 - June 7, 2020
View Exhibition

Berry Campbell is pleased to announce Artist’s Choice: Interconnected, an exclusive online exhibition of works from gallery’s inventory chosen by Berry Campbell’s represented contemporary artists. Eric Dever, Judith Godwin, Ken Greenleaf, Jill Nathanson, Ann Purcell, Mike Solomon, Susan Vecsey, James Walsh, Joyce Weinstein, and Frank Wimberley have thoughtfully selected one work from our gallery inventory that they associate with their own creative process and artistic journey. This artist-curated exhibition is an inquiry into the lines of influence and connections within our Berry Campbell artist community. Artist’s Choice: Interconnected launches digitally May 7, 2020.

The choices are sometimes expected, and at other times, surprising.  Some artists were inspired by a painting from an artist they had never met, and others paid tribute to old friends or mentors.  Judith Godwin recalls good times with her old friend and art dealer, Betty Parsons.  James Walsh remembers a painting by Walter Darby Bannard from a 1981 show at Knoedler Gallery.  Mike Solomon pays homage to the perseverance of abstract painter and dear friend, Frank Wimberley saying: “The quiet intermingling of his experience, with the purity of painting, gives his abstractions an authenticity and delicacy that is profound to witness.”  Ken Greenleaf favorite is Cloistered #5 (1968) by Ida Kohlmeyer, delighting in the pure abstraction.  Jill Nathanson picked a color-field forerunner, Dan Christensen.  Ann Purcell admitted to being picky but found true inspiration after visiting our Yvonne Thomas show repeatedly.  Eric Dever ruminates about Charlotte Park: “Like a favorite poem, novel or even film, a painting can be a touchstone, something one returns to with certain regularity; perhaps a gauge of some kind, beginning with personal happiness on the occasion of discovery and new revelation as our lives unfold.”  Joyce Weinstein finds parallels with John Opper.  Susan Vecsey loves the “stillness and movement” of Elaine de Kooning’s Six Horses, Blue Wall (1987).  No coincidence that Vecsey lives down the road from the Elaine de Kooning house in the Hamptons. Frank Wimberley recalls of Herman Cherry: “He was one of the East End artists who wished to me to succeed.”

Christine Berry and Martha Campbell have many parallels in their backgrounds and interests. Both studied art history in college, began their careers in the museum world, and later worked together at a major gallery in midtown Manhattan. Most importantly, however, Berry and Campbell share a curatorial vision.

Both art dealers developed a strong emphasis on research and networking with artists and scholars during their art world years. They decided to work together, opening Berry Campbell Gallery in 2013 in the heart of New York's Chelsea art district, at 530 West 24th Street on the ground floor. In 2015, the gallery expanded, doubling its size with an additional 2,000 square feet of exhibition space.

Highlighting a selection of postwar and contemporary artists, the gallery fulfills an important gap in the art world, revealing a depth within American modernism that is just beginning to be understood, encompassing the many artists who were left behind due to race, gender, or geography-beyond such legendary figures as Pollock and de Kooning. Since its inception, the gallery has been especially instrumental in giving women artists long overdue consideration, an effort that museums have only just begun to take up, such as in the 2016 traveling exhibition, Women of Abstract Expressionism, curated by University of Denver professor Gwen F. Chanzit. This show featured work by Perle Fine and Judith Godwin, both represented by Berry Campbell, along with that of Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, and Joan Mitchell. In 2019, Berry Campbell's exhibition, Yvonne Thomas: Windows and Variations (Paintings 1963 - 1965) was reviewed by Roberta Smith for the New York Times, in which Smith wrote that Thomas, "... kept her hand in, adding a fresh directness of touch, and the results give her a place in the still-emerging saga of postwar American abstraction.”

In addition to Perle Fine and Judith Godwin, artists whose work is represented by the gallery include Edward Avedisian, Walter Darby Bannard, Stanley Boxer, Dan Christensen, Eric Dever, John Goodyear, Ken Greenleaf, Raymond Hendler, Ida Kohlmeyer, Jill Nathanson, John Opper, Stephen Pace, Charlotte Park, William Perehudoff, Ann Purcell, Mike Solomon, Syd Solomon, Albert Stadler, Yvonne Thomas, Susan Vecsey, James Walsh, Joyce Weinstein, Frank Wimberley, Larry Zox, and Edward Zutrau. The gallery has helped promote many of these artists' careers in museum shows including that of Bannard at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (2018-19); Syd Solomon, in a traveling museum show which culminates at the John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota and has been extended through 2021; Stephen Pace at The McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries at the University of Southern Indiana (2018) and at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (2019); and Vecsey and Mike Solomon at the Greenville County Museum of Art, South Carolina (2017 and 2019, respectively); and Eric Dever at the Suffolk Community College, Riverhead, New York (2020). In an April 3, 2020 New York Times review of Berry Campbell's exhibition of Ida Kohlmeyer's Cloistered paintings, Roberta Smith stated: “These paintings stunningly sum up a moment when Minimalism was giving way to or being complicated by something more emotionally challenging and implicitly feminine and feminist. They could hang in any museum.”

Collaboration is an important aspect of the gallery. With the widened inquiries and understandings that have resulted from their ongoing discussions about the art world canon, the dealers feel a continual sense of excitement in the discoveries of artists and research still to be made.

Berry Campbell is located in the heart of the Chelsea Arts District at 530 West 24th Street, Ground Floor, New York, NY 10011.  For further information, contact us at 212.924.2178, or

Ida Kohlmeyer News: Guild Hall Museum: The MONSTER LIST of FREE Arts & Cultural Resources, May  1, 2020 - Guild Hall

Guild Hall Museum: The MONSTER LIST of FREE Arts & Cultural Resources

May 1, 2020 - Guild Hall

During this time of quarantine, we have witnessed an unprecedented amount of creative output online, ranging from internationally acclaimed artists performing on stage, to cozy living room concerts. As Guild Hall continues to release our own new and historic virtual programming, we want to make it easier for you to find arts and cultural resources from the artists and places we love in a single aggregate list. 

Below you will find creative resources for artists, families, children and adults. Please note: This is a living document, growing daily. Check back often, and feel free to suggest additions by emailing with the Subject: Monster List.


Berry Campbell | Ida Kohlmeyer: Cloistered


Ida Kohlmeyer News: VIDEO: Christine Berry on Ida Kohlmeyer: Cloistered, April 24, 2020 - Berry campbell

VIDEO: Christine Berry on Ida Kohlmeyer: Cloistered

April 24, 2020 - Berry campbell

In this video, Christine Berry speaks about Ida Kohlmeyer and Berry Campbell's current exhibition, Ida Kohlmeyer: Cloistered.

Ida Kohlmeyer News: Editors’ Picks: 11 Things Not to Miss in the Virtual Art World This Week | Ida Kohlmeyer: Cloistered, April  7, 2020 - Katie White for Artnet News

Editors’ Picks: 11 Things Not to Miss in the Virtual Art World This Week | Ida Kohlmeyer: Cloistered

April 7, 2020 - Katie White for Artnet News

9. “Ida Kohlmeyer: Cloistered” at Berry Campbell Gallery

During her lifetime, the New Orleans painter Ida Kohlmeyer won acclaim in her native Louisiana for her abstract, often jubilantly colored canvases that hovered between gridded arrangements of Rothko-esque fields of color (in fact, she counted the AbEx giant as a friend and mentor) and the mark-making lyricism of Cy Twombly. 

A much different and little-known set of her early works can be glimpsed in “Cloistered,” a new online exhibition at Berry Campbell. Made in 1968–69, these paintings almost have the appearance of aerial maps of ancient citadels with concentric bands of geometric shapes surrounding a point of central focus. While showing the influences of Georgia O’Keeffe in places and contemporaries like Kenneth Noland in others, the works also speak to the artist’s fascination with interest in Mesoamerican art (which she voraciously collected) and in cultivating a vocabulary of hieroglyphs, emblems, and ritual meaning, which here collide into a feminine vision of Abstract Expressionism. 

—Katie White