National Museum of Women in the Arts
Ida Renee Kohlmeyer
November 03 1912 - January 24 1997
Photograph of Ida Renee Kohlmeyer, unknown date, by Judy Cooper, courtesy of Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans, LA, USA
Place of Birth:
New Orleans
Phonetic Spelling:
EYE-dah reh-NAY KOHL-(m-eye)-err
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Active Dates:
1947 - 1997
Work Type/Media:
Drawings and prints, Painting, Sculpture
Artistic Role(s):
Oil Painter, Painter, Printmaker, Sculptor
Abstraction, Abstract Expressionism
Artist's Biography:
Although Ida Renee Kohlmeyer did not begin her artistic career until her late thirties, she achieved great success as an abstract painter. Kohlmeyer was born in New Orleans in 1912. She attended Newcomb College and graduated with a degree in English literature. In 1934 she married Hugh Barnard Kohlmeyer with whom she traveled to Vera Cruz and Mexico City and developed a lifelong interest in Central and South American folk art. When her husband joined the army, Kohlmeyer moved with him to Camp Lee in Virginia and then to Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

After the birth of her first daughter, the family moved back to New Orleans where Kohlmeyer developed an interest in tennis and golf. In 1947 she turned her attention to art. Kohlmeyer took classes at the Newcomb Art School at Tulane University where she studied painting and drawing with Pat Trivigno. With his encouragement, she decided to pursue a master's degree and exhibited her first paintings at the Fifty-Fourth Annual Spring Exhibition at the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art in New Orleans. In 1956, Kohlmeyer graduated from Tulane and traveled to Provincetown, Massachusetts where she studied with Hans Hofmann. Under his instruction, she began experimenting with Abstract Expressionism.

That same year, Kohlmeyer traveled to Paris with her husband who was suffering from health problems. She met Joan Miró and was inspired to continue to work abstractly. However, by 1969, feeling that she had said all that she could through abstract painting, Kohlmeyer began creating sculptural works in wood and plexiglas. Afraid that she might never paint again, she decided to return to painting, but reverted to figurative imagery hoping to rekindle the excitement she had experienced when she began twenty years earlier. She returned to non-objective painting in 1971.

In 1973, Kohlmeyer was appointed Associate Professor of Art at Louisiana State University. She was awarded the 1980 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Women’s Caucus and continued painting and producing sculptures until late in life. Kohlmeyer died in New Orleans in 1997. Critics have called her one of the greatest Abstract Expressionist painters in the American South, and her work continues to be praised for its originality and distinct style.

Other Occupation(s):
Instructor, Professor
Place(s) of Residence:
New Orleans
Where Trained/Schools:
Newcomb Art School, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA (1952-1956) Newcomb College, New Orleans, LA, USA (1929-1933)
Related Visual Artists:
teacher of and collaborated with Lynda Benglis student of Hans Hofmann student of Pat Trivigno influenced by Mark Rothko influenced by Joan Miró collaborated with Andrew Bascle
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Lifetime Achievement Award, Women's Caucus for Art, New York, NY, USA (1980) Museum Purchase Award, Twenty-first Southeastern Annual Exhibition, The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, USA (1966) Ford Foundation Purchase Award, Twenty-eighth Corcoran Biennial of Contemporary American Painting, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA (1963)
Earliest exhibition:
Fifty-Fourth Annual Spring Exhibition, Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA, USA (1955)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Four Centuries of Women's Art: The National Museum of Women in the Arts
Presswork: The Art of Women Printmakers
Artist retrospective(s):
Ida Kohlmeyer: Thirty Years, Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC, USA (1983-1985) Ida Kohlmeyer: A Retrospective Exhibition, Turman Gallery, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN, USA (1972) Ida Kohlmeyer Retrospective 1961-1971, Galerie Simmone Stern, New Orleans, LA, USA (1971)
Related places
New Orleans (died at)