Minna Citron. American, 1896 - 1991

Artist Statement


Minna Citron: The Uncharted Course from Realism to Abstraction
Ashville Art Museum, NC
Friday, June 6 – Sunday, September 14, 2014

Minna Citron on artline
Minna Citron. Squid Under Pier, intaglio

Minna Citron: The Uncharted Course from Realism to Abstraction is a retrospective exhibition that features work by award-winning American painter and printmaker Minna Citron (1896–1991). Citron's New York-based career was long and distinguished, with numerous exhibitions worldwide and her works represented in the permanent collections of major museums in the United States and abroad. Citron was an artist at the forefront of major artistic movements of the 20th century, as well as directly connected to the central figures of those movements, and she was a well-known figure in the New York art world.

Citron was interested from a feminist perspective in her dual roles as wife/mother and professional artist. Her early work in the 1930s is edgy and radical — often satirical critiques of contemporary society. Citron challenged the roles of women in the 1930s, a period in which representations of women in art had become more conservative than the images of sexually liberated "modern" women of the 1920s.

In the 1940s, Citron became part of the first generation of New York Abstract Expressionists. Her longstanding interest in psychoanalysis and Freudian theory burgeoned during this time, as she worked in Stanley William Hayter's famed Atelier 17 alongside well-known European exiles including Marc Chagall and younger Americans like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, among others. Exploring the use of accident and chance and the role of the unconscious, Citron brought her feminist consciousness to an approach more often associated with male artists.

As her career progressed, Citron continued to draw on psychoanalysis and the unconscious as sources of inspiration in her abstract art. In the 1960s and 1970s she turned to collages and mixed-media constructions, and then back again to painting during her last decade.

Designed to shed light upon a historically important 20th century American artist who is recently being rediscovered, the exhibition showcases about 50 paintings, prints, drawings and mixed media constructions created during the course of the artist's more than 60-year career.

This exhibition is organized by Juniata College, Pennsylvania with assistance from Christiane Citron.


Minna Citron, 95, Artist Whose Work Spanned 2 Schools
Published: December 24, 1991

Minna Citron, a painter and printmaker best known for her Social Realist images of New York City, died on Saturday at Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan. She was 95 years old and lived in Manhattan.

She died after a long illness, said her granddaughter Christiane Citron of Denver.

Mrs. Citron, whose maiden name was Wright, was born in Newark on Oct. 15, 1896, and grew up in Brooklyn. She began to study art as a diversion in the 1920's when she was living in Brooklyn, married and the mother of two sons. By 1928, she was studying at the Art Students League with John Sloan and Kenneth Hayes Miller, whose satirical depictions of city life influenced her own style. She had her first solo exhibition in 1930 at the New School for Social Research.

By 1934, she was divorced and working in a studio on Union Square. She soon became associated with a loosely knit group of Realist painters known as the 14th Street school, who included Moses and Raphael Soyer and Isabel Bishop. In the late 1930's she taught art and painted murals for the Works Progress Administration. In the early 1940's, she changed to abstraction, which remained her primary style for the rest of her life.

Mrs. Citron had many exhibitions, both in the United States and abroad; her most recent show in New York City was held last year at the Susan Teller Gallery in SoHo. Her work is represented in many museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, and the National Museum of American Art and the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington.

She is survived by her sons, Casper, of Manhattan a radio and television commentator, and Tom, of Short Hills., N.J.; seven grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.


born 1896 Newark, NJ
died 1991 New York

1928 Art Students League
public collections
Ashville Art Museum, NC
Hirshhorn Museum of Art, Washington DC
Library of Congress, Washington DC
Metropollitan Museum of Art, New York
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington DC
Whitney Museum of Art, New York



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