Hedda Sterne: Imagination and Machine

Hedda Sterne

Blank ONe gallery

January 10, 2020 – April 15, 2020

In 1961, Fortune magazine commissioned the Romanian-born, mid-20th-century artist Hedda Sterne to produce paintings that characterize her impressions of John Deere tractor parts. The magazine chose Sterne based on a body of work she completed in the 1950s that focused on the anthropomorphic qualities of machines.

Sterne visited the company’s factories in both Moline, Illinois and Waterloo, Iowa and became interested in the vital importance of valves, transmissions, and engine parts of the tractors. The seven paintings she made for the commission depict the gritty, staid, and isolated machine parts as a way to “understand not how they work, but how they are.” The paintings — made with paint brushes, oil sticks, and a spray gun — were illustrated in the July issue of Fortune that year, and purchased by John Deere for the company’s collection.

This exhibition features all seven paintings, which have never been shown together outside Moline, Illinois. A brochure accompanying the exhibition will feature an essay by Shaina Larrivee, the director of the Hedda Sterne Foundation.

Hedda Sterne: Imagination and Machine is organized by Assistant Curator Jared Ledesma.

Above: Hedda Sterne (American, 1910–2011)
Six Cylinder Engine, 1961
Oil and enamel on canvas
34 x 26 inches 
Image provided as courtesy of John Deere

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