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

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.

Hollander Witness
Oil on canvas

Oil, encaustic, earth on canvas

Oil, wax on canvas

Narcisse #2
Oil on canvas

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

Oil, wax on canvas

Oil on canvas

Strange Flowers
Oil on canvas

Oil on canvas

Oil on canvas

Oil on canvas

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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.

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.

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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Click to RSVP.

Call for Entries: 'Vera Klement' Poetry Contest announcement

Click to sign up for virtual access to the program.

Click to RSVP.

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March 4, 2021 - April 9, 2021

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

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.


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

For exhibition details and media inquires, please email:
Joel Zwart, Curator of Exhibitions
[email protected]

For learning and engagement opportunities, please email [email protected]

Page last modified February 9, 2023