Klement, Vera

Renowned painter Vera Klement shares her energy with Klein Artist Works participants as she tells the story of her life, discusses the evolution of her artwork, and shares the value she places on intuition and the subconscious.

“I think artists are links in a chain. Unlike today, [when] it’s a more Oedipal thing: whatever is going on, you kill it off. And then you replace it with your own short-lived thing. And so it’s stop and start, and stop and start. And I prefer the concept of a chain that’s continuous. I want to be a link in a chain that has Cézanne in it…. Everybody’s in that damn chain.”

Vera Klement was born in 1929 in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland), an independent German Hanseatic quasi-state, and she immigrated with her family to New York City in 1938. She enrolled at the prestigious High School of Music and Art, where she studied Cubism, and after she attended Cooper Union, graduating in 1950. Klement, with her husband of the time, left New York for Chicago in 1964. She joined Participating Artists of Chicago (PAC) as the group’s Treasurer and in 1969 she began teaching at the University of Chicago, where she remained until 1995. She helped found Artemisia Gallery, an artist-run exhibition space dedicated to showing only women’s work, in the fall of 1973. Klement’s work sits in a number of major collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago, and she has enjoyed retrospective exhibitions at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago and the Chicago Cultural Center. Her numerous awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award, and she has been recognized by the Union League Club as a Lifetime Distinguished Artist Member. Klement is the focus of the short 2010 documentary Blunt Edge. She lives in Chicago and shows with Zolla/Lieberman Gallery.