Theme/Style – Modernism, Abstraction
Media – Oils, murals, lithography
Artistic Focus – One of the few Southern California Modernists to fully understand and reflect the influence of Kandinsky, Elise Seeds (who used just “Elise” as her artist’s identity) created works which were arrangements of pure line and simple, two-dimensional geometric shapes. Some established a linkage with representational objects, while others were totally nonobjective. Elise’s work was inspired by natural forms, in which the artist saw an innate rhythm and balance, and from which she could reduce those forms to their essence, their smallest possible denominator.
Career Highlights –
- After studying art in her home state of Pennsylvania, and then studying dance in the 1920s with Isadora Duncan, Elise Seeds came to California in the 1930s to act as W.C. Fields’s comic partner in the Ziegfeld Follies.
- Standing six feet tall and, in the 1930s, sporting purple hair, Elise epitomized the group of progressive Southern California female artists of which she became a member.
- Elise’s first known drawings and paintings, created from 1932 to 1935, already exhibited a fully Modernist style, with their thin, sweeping lines, fluid, arching movement and a sense of delicacy.
- Merle Armitage’s monograph Elise was published in 1934. Limited to 200 copies, it contained an original lithograph signed and numbered by Elise and a portrait of Elise by Beatrice Wood.
- During her career, Elise created some of Los Angeles’ purest abstractions, and often the words used to describe her works sounded as if they were describing music or dance: melody, harmony, progression, sequence, tempo, dynamics.
- Elise passed away in Los Angeles in 1963.
Bibliographic references are available upon request.