American Artist: (1898-1989)
Born in Latvia, Valleja (Wally) Strautin was a New York City-based portrait, landscape, mural, textile and geometric-based abstract artist who resided in Greenwich Village. She graduated in 1931 from the Cooper Union School of Art in New York City. Strautin was good friends and neighbours with Abstract Expressionist artists Jackson Pollock and his wife Lee Krasner, who were highly influential. Though she produced portraits and murals, Strautin found her voice as a painter in a geometric-based abstraction. In conversation with Krasner, Strautin began experimenting with abstraction early in her career. Despite the fact that Strautin’s abstract canvases, were produced early on in her career, they exhibit a remarkable refinement that intimates an intense study of European modernism, The Harvard University Art Museum has a 1944 Christmas card in their collection (M26157.A-B) sent by Pollock and Krasner to “Mrs. Wally Strautin.”
Strautin exhibited at the Society of Independent Artists, founded in 1916 in New York, from 1929-1944. She was a member of the Union of American Artists and the Society of Independent Artists. In 1948, Strautin exhibited with the Spiral Group at the New School for Social Research in New York City, a short-lived abstract artists group that was active from the late 1940s through the 1950s. She is also credited as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) artist. In the 1930s, as part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and its WPA effort, the federal government hired more than 10,000 artists to create works of art across the country, in a wide variety of forms – murals, theatre, fine arts, music, writing, design, and more.