Vera Klement

GVSU Haas Center for Performing Arts Gallery, Allendale Campus
March 4, 2021 - April 9, 2021

Artists grant us the rare privilege of seeing through their eyes. Vera Klement’s paintings show us a powerful, personal vision of what she conceives with her mind’s eye. In a career spanning over six decades, Klement's work reflects an amalgamation of her many influences. From classical music to literature to modern art, these themes are filtered through her early formative experience fleeing the Nazis with her family just before World War II and a lifetime examining that loss of home and identity. 

Born in 1929 in the Free City of Danzig, now Gdańsk in Poland, Klement’s childhood was imbued with music and literature primarily from her mother, a pianist. The family fled Europe following Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass) in 1938 and settled in New York, where she studied art and was exposed to Cubism and Abstract Expressionism. In 1964 she moved to Chicago where she became active in the feminist movement, taught for 25 years at the University of Chicago, and developed her work into the powerful metaphoric and poetic images for which she became known.

The GVSU Art Gallery, in collaboration with the Zolla/Liberman Gallery in Chicago, presents an overview of Klement's career from the last 40 years. Light and dark, beauty and evil, life and death, joy and sorrow are common themes found throughout this body of work. Drawing on her memories and experience, Klement often pairs two symbolic objects or images that juxtapose and carry these themes on her canvases like a personal poem. Amongst the controlled chaos of each piece, these “poem paintings” confront the viewer with hints of her past, a nostalgic longing for what is forever lost.

See more Vera Klement work in the GVSU Art Collection

View of the GVSU Art Gallery displaying the exhibition 'Vera Klement'

Click to take a 3D tour of the exhibition.

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The life and work of Vera Klement

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Click the image below to view an interactive timeline of Vera Klement's life events, artwork, and influences.

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Click any image below to view it large in a new tab. For additional label and exhibition information, view the 3D virtual tour.

Painting by Vera Klement titled 'Hollander Witness' depicting an expressively painted vessel on the left and a tall, thin green field of color on the right

Hollander Witness
Oil on canvas
1981

Painting by Vera Klement titled 'Keel' depicting a large brown boat hull with flecks of blue on a white background, to the right is a tall, thin expressively painted landscape in nude-tones

Keel
Oil, encaustic, earth on canvas
1983

A painting by Vera Klement titled 'Lifeboat' depicting a blank red brick wall on a white background, beneath is an expressively painted lifeboat on a yellow background

Lifeboat
Oil, wax on canvas
1988

Painting by Vera Klement titled 'Narcisse #2' depicting the base of a tree trunk and it's reflection below floating on a white background

Narcisse #2
Oil on canvas
1999

Painting by Vera Klement titled 'A Heap of Broken Images' depicting a pile of doll heads and vases and pitchers on a white background, to the right is a pyramid painted in red with the top removed.

A Heap of Broken Images
Oil, wax, charcoal, gesso on canvas
2006

Painting by Vera Klement titled 'Hexentanzplatz' on two tall, thin canvases, the left-hand canvas depicts an upside down face floating in a bowl of white liquid and the right-hand canvas depicts dark blue tree trunks floating on a dark blue background with a burst of light blue slots behind them

Hexentanzplatz
Oil, wax on canvas
2009

Painting by Vera Klement titled 'Greening' depicting the trunk of a tree floating on a white background next to a red paint splatter with a white rectangular frame floating over/within it

Greening
Oil on canvas
2014

Painting by Vera Klement titled 'Strange Flowers' depicting a row boat on a white background surrounded by 10 paint splatters in bright reds, orange, and yellow resembling wounds

Strange Flowers
Oil on canvas
2014

Painting by Vera Klement titled 'Blossoming' depicting a large field of colored paint slatters in pink, yellow, green, beige, and red floating on a white background above an abstract beige and green field in aerial view

Blossoming
Oil on canvas
2018

Painting by Vera Klement titled 'Carpeted' depicting a color field of expressive paint marks in vibrant reds and blues with mauve-colored flowers along the far left edge, to the right is a tall, thin bright blue rectangle

Carpeted
Oil on canvas
2019

Painting by Vera Klement titled 'Witnesses' tree trunks floating on a red square and a grey rectangle

Witnesses
Oil on canvas
2017

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Learning Resources

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Learning Guide

A quick-reference guide for educators interested in incorporating the exhibition content into their teaching.

Learning guide for Vera Klement, March 4th through April 9th, 2021 at the GVSU Haas Center for Performing Arts Gallery, an expressive-style painting of a brown boat next to a tall, thin section of painted landscape

Click to open in new tab.

Exhibition Catalog

A 50+ page catalog featuring Vera Klement's artwork in the exhibition accompanied by an introductory essay by Max Klement.

COver of Vera Klement catalog.

Click to open in new tab.

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Recommended Reading

Check out the following GVSU Library books and articles covering key themes and other content related to the exhibition. Or use the Libraries Catalog to find more books and articles. 

Thank you to Amber Dierking and Kim Ranger with the GVSU Libraries for their guidance in compiling this list.

Click any image to open a PDF list of reading recommendations in a new tab.

 

 

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Events & Activities

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Vera Klement, Virtual Vera, a first look at the exhibition, March 12, 2021, 12-1pm, a virtual event open to all, RSVP required

Click to RSVP.

Call for Entries: 'Vera Klement' Poetry Contest announcement

Click for details.

Vera Klement, Vera Vision, a multi-media experience of artmaking, poetry, and music inspired by the life and work of Vera Klement, April 2, 2021, 12-3pm, open to all, RSVP required for virtual access

Click to sign up for virtual access to the program.

Vera Klement, Virtual Vera, a virtual tour of the exhibition, April 8th, 2021, 7-8pm, a virtual event open to all, RSVP required

Click to RSVP.

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Location

March 4, 2021 - April 9, 2021

Haas Center for Performing Arts Gallery
Haas Center for Performing Arts
1 Campus Dr.
Allendale, MI 49401

Hours:
Monday 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Thursday 1:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Friday 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Contact

For special accommodation, please call:
(616) 331-3638

For exhibition details and media inquires, please email:
Joel Zwart, Curator of Exhibitions
zwartjo@gvsu.edu

For learning and engagement opportunities, please email:
Amanda Rainey, UX/Learning Manager
raineyam@gvsu.edu