Herta Lager Kane

Introduction

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Edited by Billy Bussell Thompson

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Herta Lager Kane (1928-2021) was born in Vienna.  With her family, she came to New York City in 1941–via Switzerland–fleeing Nazi persecution.

Herta began her education at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, School of Art and Architecture, before obtaining a B.F.A. in Graphic Design and an M.F.A. in Painting from the University at Buffalo.  

Photo provided by Herta’s daughter Vivien Kane

Herta began her career as an adjunct professor of Painting in the University at Buffalo, and then spent most of her life as an associate professor of graphic design in the State University College at Buffalo. Herta’s paintings on the plasticity of geometric abstractions as well as her refined constructivist drawings have been exhibited at Buffalo’s Albright Knox Art Gallery, the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, and various alternative local cooperatives dedicated to video research and development for theater and television.

In her work Herta searched for a new direction in the depiction of pictorial space, resulting from the great legacy of our mentor Seymour Drumlevitch. In her own words, Herta aspired to arrive at the power “… of a mystical ambiguity and elusiveness.”

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An Elegy

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  Herta always had a generous warmth for and a profound insight into humanity.  Even when we were most fragile, in our moments of trouble, we did not have to say much to assure each other that everything would be fine; even in silence, we supported one another with a sense of wonderment, at times even with great humor.


From the time when I first met Herta in 1975, as a painting instructor in the University at Buffalo, she shared her wealth of knowledge and always provided encouragement.  She looked after my well-being until she was no longer able.  Our friendship attested to the fact that no one has control over his destiny, though our love persisted beyond such boundaries.


Herta’s confidence—in the labors of becoming a visual artist and surviving the myriad uncertainties of a professional career—enabled my finding answers to managing whatever fate provided.


Her humanity, dignity, and intelligence were a fountain of inspiration for all of us, who had the good fortune of knowing her.  More than a mentor Herta became a loving and loyal friend.  No one else could fill her place in my heart.  


Herta and I had strong bonds.  I owe her my standing, not only emotional maturity but also my intellectual development.  Without her, I would be different; to her I owe the inspiration of authenticity and thoughtfulness.

R.F.M.

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In Memoriam Herta Lager Kane

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Destiny

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       Fate and chance drew out of our tears a smile 
and brought solace to our failures;
then we looked up after we'd sunk
with the confidence 
of climbing back.

       In loneliness
we found for ourselves company,
and in helping others, we were helped.
In our pursuit of the impossible good,
we came to know our failures.

       In the brevity of each moment,
nothing seemed to fit for being possessed;
when we marveled at the great arc of time,
this never died,
even in the absence of hope.
 
       The ups and downs from the goddesses, the three Moirai and Tyche,
 in their dispensation of favors and troubles,
 couldn’t keep us from moving on,
 even if we met each other and were
 hopelessly aware of our imperfections.

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Ricardo F Morin, December 29, 2021, coauthored by Billy Bussell Thompson

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Herta’s Art

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Herta Kane, American artist born in Austria (1928-2021), Painting entitled “Untitled”, c. 1980, Acrylic on Canvas, diptych, 49 5/8 7/8″ x 50″, Gift of the artist to the Burchfield Penny Art Center Collection 2002 https://burchfieldpenney.org/art-and-artists/people/profile:herta-kane/

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Herta Kane, American artist born in Austria (1928-2021), Painting entitled “Untitled”, c. 1980, Acrylic on Canvas, diptych, 57 7/8″ x 37 5/8″, Gift of the artist to the Burchfield Penny Art Center Collection, 2002. https://burchfieldpenney.org/art-and-artists/people/profile:herta-kane/

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Herta Kane, American artist born in Austria (1928-2021), work on paper entitled “Untitled”, Acrylic and collage on paper, 10 1/2″ x 10 1/2″. Gift of the Arts Development Services, Inc., 1978 to the Burchfield Penny Arts Center Collection, 1978. https://burchfieldpenney.org/art-and-artists/people/profile:herta-kane/

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Herta Lager-Kane (1928-2021) American artist born in Austria, work on paper, “Untitled”, 1978; acrylic and felt tip pen on drafting paper, 10″ x 21″, Gift of the Arts Development Services, Inc., 1978. https://burchfieldpenney.org/art-and-artists/artwork/object:1978-006-012-untitled/

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