American sculptor, painter and lithographer, born in Kiev, Russia (née Berliawsky). Emigrated to the USA in 1905 and settled at Rockland, Maine. Married in 1920 and moved to New York. Studied painting and drawing with Theresa Bernstein and William Meyerwitz, as well as dance, singing and dramatics. Afterwards studied painting at the Art Students League 1929-33, as well as for six months in Munich in 1931 under Hans Hofmann. Worked as assistant to Diego Rivera on his frescoes in New York 1932. Began to make sculpture in 1932, first very stylised Cubist-influenced figures, then c.1941-3 larger works of humorous circus animals and clowns assembled from pieces of wood, metal and fabric. First one-woman exhibition at the Nierendorf Gallery, New York, 1941. Experimented from 1944 with small-scale abstract wood assemblages, mainly of found objects such as bits of furniture, a hatter's block, etc., everything sometimes painted a unifying black. Made her first walls of black boxes in 1958, her first white and gold walls in 1959, these large environmental works bringing belated recognition. Began in 1966 to fabricate units in enamelled aluminium and later Cor-ten steel made up of completely geometric elements such as rectangles, circles, etc.; also made a few sculptures in 1967-8 in transparent perspex. Lives in New York.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.553-4