1952 - 1958

In the early 1950s, Hedda Sterne's abstractions of her New York surrounding became experimentally more gestural, expressing a new interest in motion and light. By 1953, she had begun experimenting with cans of commercial spray paint, because, as she later explained, "it could not be done in skywriting with jet planes." She described feeling that New York was

"like a gigantic carousel in continuous motion - on many levels - lines approaching swiftly and curving back again forming an intricate ballet of reflections and sounds."

In 1956, Hedda Sterne traveled cross-country, driving through the northern mountain states to the West Coast, and through British Columbia to ferry to Alaska. After returning through California, across the southwest desert states and into northern Mexico, the southern U.S., and north along the mid-Atlantic coastline, Sterne soon began a new series of work inspired by the journey, a meditation on the roads and horizons.

Hedda Sterne, Yellow Structure, 1952, Oil on canvas, 24 1/4 in. x 20 1/4 in.

Hedda Sterne, Untitled, c. 1953, Oil and spray paint on canvas, 42 in. x 34 in.

Hedda Sterne, New York, 1956, Oil on canvas, 32 1/8 x 50 1/8 in., Collection of The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of Society for Contemporary American Art, 1956.62

Hedda Sterne, Road No. 6, 1956, Oil, spray paint on canvas, 86 1/8 x 50 1/8 in., Collection of The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Hedda Sterne, Roads #5, 1957, Oil, spray paint on canvas, 86 in. x 50 in. 

Hedda Sterne, Third Avenue El, 1952-53, Oil and spray enamel on canvas, 40 3/8 x 31 7/8 in., Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel H. Silberberg, 1964 (64.123.4)

Hedda Sterne, New York VIII, 1954, Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 6' 1/8" x 42", Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Mr. and Mrs. Roy R. Neuberger Fund, 558.1954

Hedda Sterne, New York, N.Y., 1955, 1955, Airbrush and enamel on canvas, 36 1/4 × 60 1/4 in., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of an anonymous donor, 56.20

Hedda Sterne, New York No. 1 - 1957, 1957, Oil and spray paint on canvas, 76 5/8 in. x 51 1/4 in., Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT; Gift of Susan Morse Hilles, 1959.88

Hedda Sterne, No. 3—1957, 1957, Oil, spray paint on canvas, 86 1/8 × 50 1/4 in., Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond

Hedda Sterne, Manhattan No. 1, 1958, Oil, spray paint on canvas, 42 in. x 72 in.