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1878 - 1957

Maurice Sterne

Maurice Sterne was born in Latvia but moved with his mother and his four older siblings to Moscow after his father died. When he was 12 years old the family were forced to leave Russia; they moved to New York City. As a teenager, Sterne studied at the national Academy of Design. When he began to work as a draftsman and painter, critics observed that his work was almost sculptural. A trip to Greece when he was about 31 years old introduced him to ancient Greek statues and inspired him to experiment with sculpture. Equally formative was a trip a few years later to India and surrounding areas; he settled in Bali for a couple of years and his time there allowed the creation of a large body of work portraying Balinese people and also had a major impact on his later work.

In 1926 he had a very successful exhibition at the Scott and Fowles Gallery in New York City followed by a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1933. He was from that time forward a Blue Chip artist.

In the mid-1930s, Sterne lived in San Francisco and taught at the California School of Fine Arts. He returned to the East Coast in 1945 and established a studio in Mount Kisco, New York. He was named to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1938. From 1945 to 1950, he served on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.

Sterne’s work is held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Delware Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, the Phillips Collection, and many others. His archives are held at Yale University.