One of the few living abstract expressionists of the New York School still working, Amaranth Ehrenhalt was born in Newark, N.J. in 1928 and raised in Philadelphia. She lived in New York City in the early ‘50s and knew Al Held, Ronald Bladen and Willem de Kooning. In the mid-50s, she left for a three-week visit to Paris and stayed for over 30 years. As an expatriate she exhibited with such contemporaries as Sam Francis, Joan Mitchell and Shirley Jaffe. She returned to New York in 2008 and has established herself as a multifaceted artist with many solo and group exhibitions in Paris, Italy, New York and California. Her work extends beyond the canvas to include drawings, prints, watercolors, tapestries, mosaics, murals, sculptures, poetry, prose and more. Today she continues to live and work in New York City.
My work is abstract expressionist. “Unexpected” and “radiating energy” are often used to describe my art. I try to create that which does not sleep, but rather looks like it is constantly in motion: dancing, vibrating, gyrating, shimmering, stretching, jumping. My paintings often follow in series. There is a persistent idea that keeps me frustrated until I paint it. Then the theme begins to change and suggests to me new concepts for another series. In so much as they fulfill my expectations, my painting attempts to stimulate the viewer: to excite, to relax, to entice, to seduce, to pleasure. Like a favorite piece of music, art should enrich one’s life.
Joan Mitchell once asked me, in Paris, why I want to paint. I do not know if i “want to paint” or do not “want to paint”. It is just something that I do- like breathing and moving, walking and talking. I cannot imagine my life without it. The first thing I do in the morning, is look at the painting I am currently working on. The last thing I do in the evening is look at the identical painting. I like to live and work in the same place so that I have immediate access to my work.
People often ask me how long it took to do a painting? Should I include the time when I wake up at 4 am with an idea for a new series? It is not like a 9 to 5 job which I can turn off when I leave the work site. The ideas are constantly imposing themselves upon my brain. Where do they come from? Millions of words will not be able to tell us. I consider it a gift for which I am forever thankful.