Sonia Gechtoff (b. 1926, Philadelphia, PA, d. 2018, New York, NY) was an influential Ukrainian-American painter who began her career in Beat-era San Francisco but worked most of her life in New York. The artist found extraordinary success early in her career, staging solo exhibitions at SFMOMA and the De Young Museum. She was included in the landmark 1954 group exhibition Younger American Painters at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and participated in the 1961 São Paulo Bienial in an exhibition organized by MoMA which included American artists such as Robert Motherwell, Lee Bontecou, Ellsworth Kelly, John Chamberlain, and Richard Diebenkorn.
The present work belongs to the artist’s Icons series, a prevalent motif in Gechtoff’s practice which references her Russian heritage and the religious iconography she grew up with. Often circular in form, these abstract collages combine pieces of torn, hand-painted paper with graphite and pastel drawings, creating energetic swirling layers of built-up, multi-textural surfaces.