Cleo Hartwig, American (1907 - 1988)

Cleo Hartwig

Cleo Hartwig (20 October 1907 – 18 June 1988) was an American sculptor who worked in stone, wood, terra cotta, plaster, paper, woodcut, and ceramic. She won a number of awards, including national awards, and her work is exhibited across the northeast U.S.

Cleo Hartwig belongs to a line of 'direct carvers' (taille direct) which includes both Jose de Creeft, with whom she studied, and Vincent Glinsky, her husband. With this technique the artist carves directly into the materials, without the use of intermediary steps. The conception and execution of the work is influenced by the density, veining, color, texture, and shape of the material.

Hartwig belongs to the generation of the 1930s and 1940s who advanced opportunities for women artists. She was an early member of the National Association of Women Artists (eventually serving as Vice President), and the New York Society of Women Artists (eventually serving as Recording Secretary). She is regarded as a member of The New York School, and her work was featured in the TV documentary, Women of the First Wave; Elders of the Century. Cleo Hartwig’s papers are held at the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art.

Her works are in such collections as:

Newark Museum, NJ
Montclair Art Museum, NJ
National Academy of Design
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Brookgreen Gardens, SC [4]
Detroit Institute of Arts
Southern Vermont Art Center
All Faiths Memorial Tower (now George Washington Memorial Park), NJ
Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA
Lenox Hill Hospital, NY, Children's Pavilion
Mount Holyoke College, MA
State University of New York at Oswego
Western Michigan University
Smithsonian Institution

Cleo Hartwig was born in Webberville, Michigan on October 20, 1907. Her rural upbringing had a lasting influence on the development of her art. She was passionately interested in every detail of plant and animal life—from form to function—and observed nature with a mix of scientific attention and artistic observation.

“Growing up in rural Michigan before the days of mass media entertainment,” Hartwig once wrote, “there was ample time to explore the countryside, search for birds’ nests, raise caterpillars until they spun cocoons and hatched into moths or butterflies, find frogs’ eggs in the ponds and watch them develop into tadpoles. These first-hand observations and experiences are among my happiest and sharpest memories, and probably account for the many nature form subjects in my sculpture. There is such rich and endless variety in nature that one could, it seems, design nothing except bird forms and never exhaust the possibilities of interpretation.”

Hartwig attended Portland High School between 1921-25, and entered Western State Teachers College (now Western Michigan University) in 1926. She interrupted her studies to teach art at Holland Junior High School (1926-29), and take summer art classes at Chicago Art Institute (1930, 1931). She returned to WSTC to graduate with an A.B. in 1932.

After graduation she settled in New York City, finding employment as a teacher at The Town School (1934-36). During the summer of 1935 she studied art in Poland, Hungary, Rumania, and Germany. Hartwig then taught at the Ecole Francaise (1936-39) in New York, and exhibited for the first time in New York at The National Academy of Design (113th Annual, 1938). In 1939 she made a summer trip to France to study art, but returned home hastily because of the growing hostilities. Hartwig took up residence at Patchin Place, the historic Greenwich Village cul-de-sac, home to many famous artists of the early 20th century. (She remained at that address until her death). She joined the faculty of the Lenox School (1939-42), and exhibited her work in group shows at the Clay Club, National Academy of Design, Syracuse University, and Mt. Holyoke College. She was also part of the 1942 “Artists for Victory” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

After summer art study in Mexico (1941), Hartwig began to incorporate gestures from that country’s culture into her work. "Her carvings from the 1930s and early 1940s,” noted Ilene Fort, of the LA County Museum of Art, “are characterized by compact, massive forms, crisp outlines, and minimal details. In their blockiness, extreme simplification of shape, and coarse surfaces they especially echo Mesoamerican sculpture."

During World War II Hartwig did drafting at Bell Telephone Laboratories (1942–43), and technical illustrating at the Jordanoff Aviation Corp in NY (1943–45). During this time she held her first solo New York exhibition (Clay Club, 1943), and became active in many arts organizations. She was an early member of the National Association of Women Artists (eventually becoming Vice President),[8] and the New York Society of Women Artists (Recording Secretary). At that time she also began her long association with the Sculptors Guild (Exec. Dir., Exec. Bd., Exec. VP), Audubon Artists (VP for Sculpture, Exhibition Committee), and New York Society of Ceramic Artists (Sculpture Jury).

The National Association of Women Artists (NAWA) awarded Hartwig the Anna Hyatt Huntington Prize for her Mandolin Player in 1945. That same year she exhibited with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, National Academy of Design, National Association of Women Artists, Audubon Artists, and New York Society of Ceramic Artists. She also became a sculpture instructor at Cooper Union in New York and the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey. In addition, she completed an important work for the architect Kenneth B. Norton: a "Family Group" for the Continental Companies Building on Williams St. in downtown Manhattan. For that commission Hartwig created an 8-foot-high bas-relief of a mother, father, and child, which was cast in aluminum and installed on the front of the building.

In 1951 Hartwig married fellow sculptor, Vincent Glinsky (1895-1975). Their son, Albert Glinsky, was born the following year. Throughout the 1950s she continued to teach, complete commissions (S.S. United States), and win prizes (including several from NAWA; Artists Equity; Audubon Artists; Munson Proctor Institute). In addition, Western Michigan University awarded her an Honorary Masters Degree (1951).

During the 1960s Hartwig participated in the annual shows of the Sculptors Guild, exhibited her alabaster “Sea Foam” at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and took part in the Bryant Park outdoor exhibits in midtown Manhattan. She worked with reproduction houses (Alva Museum Replicas, Sculpture Collectors, Collectors Guild) and executed a commission for the All-Faiths Memorial Tower in NJ (now George Washington Memorial Park). Her sculptural methods were examined in a feature article in American Artist magazine.

In the 1970s Hartwig continued to collect honors: she was elected to the National Academy of Design as an Academician (1971)[10] and received an Honorary Doctorate from Western Michigan University (1973). That same decade her work won awards from the National Sculpture Society, Sculptors Guild, National Association of Women Artists, Audubon Artists, and National Academy of Design. She had a solo show at the Montclair Art Museum (1971) and two joint shows with her husband, Vincent Glinsky (Sculpture Center, NY, 1972; Fairfield University, CT, 1974).

During the last decade of her life (1980s) Hartwig exhibited in more shows than in any previous decade—58 in all. Her "Owlet," shown at the New York Botanical Garden's Conservatory, was also featured in The New York Times. She was invited to serve on juries around the country, including the 4th North American Sculpture Exhibition, for which she was co-juror with Francisco Zuniga. She received more awards, gave masterclasses, and continued to sculpt until just months before her death. Cleo Hartwig died on June 18, 1988 in New York City. After her passing, the Sculptors Guild dedicated its 1990 Hofstra University Exhibit Catalog to her memory, and the Audubon Society instituted an annual sculpture prize (still given today), in her honor.

Commissions / Awards
1943—Michigan Artists Annual, Kamperman Haas Prize
1945—National Association of Women Artists, Anna Hyatt Huntington Prize
1946—New York Society of Ceramic Artists, L. Reusche and Co. Prize
1951—National Association of Women Artists, 1st Prize
1951—Artists Equity, Honorable Mention from Lighthouse for the Blind
1951-- S.S. United States commission for sculpture for 2nd Class Smoking Lounge
1952—Audubon Artists, Sculpture Prize
1952—National Association of Women Artists
1958—Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Award, Mural & Sculpture Competition
1960—All Faith's Memorial Tower, Paramus, NJ
1965—Architectural League of NY
1967—National Association of Women Artists, Medal of Honor
1968—National Association of Women Artists, Irene Feist Memorial Prize
1969—National Sculpture Society, Silver Medal
1970—Columbia Law School Alumni Assoc., commissioned to design 2 awards
1970—National Academy of Design, Associate Member
1971—National Academy of Design, Academician
1971—National Association of Women Artists
1971—Audubon Artists
1971—National Sculpture Society, Francis Keally Award
1972—National Association of Women Artists
1972—Audubon Artists
1975—National Association of Women Artists
1975—Audubon Artists
1976—National Sculpture Society, C. Percival Dietsch Sculpture Award
1976—National Association of Women Artists
1978—National Sculpture Society, Leonard J. Meiselman Prize
1979—National Academy of Design, Ellin P. Speyer Prize
1980—National Sculpture Society, Liskin Purchase Prize
1982—National Association of Women Artists, Jeffrey Childs Willis Memorial Prize
1984—National Sculpture Society, Edith H. & Richmond Proskauer Prize
1985—New York Artists Equity Association Inc., Citation
1986—Chaim Gross Foundation Award, Audubon Artists
1987—Audubon Artists Silver Medal
1987—Audubon Artists Medal of Honor
1988—Audubon Artists Margaret Hirsch Levine Memorial Award
1988—Audubon Artists Vincent Glinsky Memorial Award
1990—Sculptors Guild Exhibit catalog dedicated to Cleo Hartwig (Hofstra University)

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