Agatha Wojciechowsky (1896 -1986) was born in Steinach, Germany and moved to the United States in the early 1920s to work as a governess. A few years later she married Leo Wojciechowsky and settled in New York where they had two children. She became an ardent Spiritualist and after developing her mediumship skills under the guidance of Bertha Marks she became a spiritual healer, and subsequently a minister and teacher of psychic studies. In her fifties she received a message from the spirit world to practice automatic writing and drawing. At first she could only write the letter ‘e’ over and over, but slowly a strange language developed as well as ink drawings of densely packed faces. A while later she was impressed to use watercolours which resulted in vibrantly coloured designs. She was also commissioned to create hand pictures where the outline of a sitter’s hand was filled with multiple faces that were often recognisable to the client.
In her 60s she showed her work on the sidewalk of the summer Greenwich Village art fair and was noticed by the Cordier Ekstrom Gallery on Madison Avenue. They included Agatha in their groups shows of 1963 and 1966. The latter of these was called Soloists and included Dubuffet, Michaux, Picabia, Man Ray and Duchamp. She later showed at the Galerie Rudolf Zwirner Gallery in Germany.
A website devoted to the artist’s work (www.agathawojciechowsky.com) states: “Agatha Wojciechowsky was recognized during her lifetime as a Surrealist. Although not following an art movement, her work reflected the sentiment of Art Informel of the 1950’s. She had solo exhibitions from the 1960’s to the present in New York, Cologne, Berlin, and Hamburg. Group exhibitions included shows with Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Dubuffet, Isamu Noguchi, Francis Picabia, Romare Bearden. Her artwork can be found in numerous public collections including Museum of Modern Art, the Prado, the Menil Collection, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Whitney Museum.”
The American Folk Art Museum is showing a wonderful 12 minute film of Agatha working in New York in 1974 by Charles O’Neal called The Art Mediumship of Agatha Wojciechowsky. Don’t miss it!
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