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An exemplary American modernist, Helen Seibert (1914-1987) was tutored in the Oberteuffer's New York City Academy in the early 1930’s. Soon thereafter, for one incredibly fruitful year, she was the only student of Arthur Dove (at Duncan Phillips’s suggestion. As she worked she was inspired by Picasso and Mondrian, both of whom she knew personally.
After her marriage in 1936 at age 22 to Charles van Wyck Brooks, two years her junior, son of the great literary lion of New England, Van Wyck Brooks (1886-1963---Duncan Phillips' best friend), she explored Europe close to the outbreak of war from 1937-1938, where she was introduced to literary and artistic geniuses, including Picasso and Braque, Hemingway, Sinclair Lewis, and Gertrude Stein, and her circle. She was associated in New York with An American Place, Alfred Steiglitz's nursery of American modernism.
On return to the United States, the couple moved to California, staying at Mabel Dodge's salon in Taos, New Mexico along the way. They settled in Marin County in 1940; there Helen would create unique modernist and post-cubist masterpieces.
She was 35 years old in 1949 when her career was cut short by schizophrenia, untreatable at the time--but she had already shown work in a major museum exhibition--the 1946 group exhibition at the San Francisco Palace of the Legion of Honor. Her career was filled with promise.
Against a tragic personal background and a brief career, Siebert nevertheless figures importantly in the history of arts and letters in the United States by virtue of her sophisticated aesthetic achievement and fresh synthesis of abstraction and figuration accomplished well before the dawn of the 1950's on the West coast.