Hedda Sterne review – beyond beauty

Victoria Miro Mayfair, London Moving freely between figuration and abstraction, Europe and America, the late Hedda Sterne approaches the sublime in this momentous first UK solo show Hedda Sterne (1910-2011) is a magnificent heroine of art. She died in New York at the age of 100 , almost entirely blind, but still drawing “behind my eyes”. In an eight-decade career, Sterne refused to cleave to any single style – no logo, as she drily remarked – unlike the abstract expressionists, with whom she was and remains too closely associated. She ran all the way from self-portraiture to cityscape, still life and collage. Her last exhibition, at 94, was a series of figurative portraits. But it was her appearance in a famous Life magazine photograph in 1951 that restricted Sterne’s reputation. She stands at the back, in a hat, the lone woman among the group of New York School painters, including Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell and Willem de Kooning, who had signed a letter of protest against the Metropolitan Museum of