Lillian Florsheim The Artist
Lillian’s artistic production took place late in her life; she began studying art in the late 1940s in her fifties and she continued to work until her eighties. She began with painting courses taught by Rudolph Weisenborn and George Buehle, both in Chicago. After viewing a work by Max Bill at the Art Institute of Chicago she became more interested in abstract work and enrolled in classes with Hugo Weber at the Institute of Design in 1951. Here she was introduced to more exploratory abstractions and three-dimensional studies, working with string and wire armatures, a technique derived from László Moholy-Nagy’s early teachings at the school.
Through the 1950s Lillian worked unaccompanied at home in her studio making abstracted figures, string study models, and a variety of utilitarian objects in Plexiglas. In the early 1960s, her sculptures became more abstract, complex studies of pure form. She began to layer Plexiglas, and then moved into strong geometric constructions of rods and planes. By the end of the decade, her works became much larger, first with tall columns and plinths and later with assemblies of tubes and portals. By the end of the 1970s, she returned to making smaller more intimately scaled works.
Over these three decades, she created an impressive body of work with more than 200 sculptures. She explored a variety of techniques, approaches, materials and methods throughout her career, probing the material and conceptual boundaries of her creations. Lillian’s sculptural work was widely exhibited from the mid-1960s through the 1980s; she had at least sixteen solo shows, and participated in twelve group shows in seven countries. She was a close friend of the highly-regarded Parisian gallerist Denise René, who showed Lillian’s work in 1968 and 1969. In 1970, Lillian was one of three artists in a major exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. She was represented by the notable Fairweather Hardin Gallery in Chicago, who hosted two solo shows of Lillian’s work in 1980 and 1983.