The Ukrainian Museum Spotlights Abstract Expressionist Pioneer Artist Janet Sobel in New Show


Ukrainian Jewish artist Janet Sobel made very few statements about her practice, but one that stands out for its uncommon forthrightness is, “I am intensely interested in people and everything that pertains to them.” Sobel’s innate curiosity about people thus serves as the through line of her first solo museum exhibition, “Wartime,” at the Ukrainian Museum in New York, taking place more than 50 years since her passing and nearly three quarters of a century since fading into obscurity.

Known, or rather unknown, by many names—including Jennie Wilson and Yevhenia Olechovska—Sobel has only recently begun to receive attention for her achievements, chief among them her foray into drip painting prior to Jackson Pollock. While documentation of her influence on Pollock is indisputable, transcribed by Clement Greenberg in his 1961 version of “American-Type Painting,” published in Art and Culture, this sensationalized anecdote does not do justice to the contributions she made to art history or the eccentricities of her story.

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