Caradoc Ehrenhalt would often accompany his mother, the artist Amaranth Ehrenhalt,
on her visits to the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New
York. She enjoyed taking a close-up look at the works, many of which were by artists
she had known personally.
Mr. Ehrenhalt loved those trips. The museum guards not so much.
"She would get very close to the art and point out details and techniques, her finger
getting close," her son said. The guards would rush over and issue the don't touch
Amaranth Ehrenhalt was a multifaceted artist best known for her paintings. She was
part of the second generation of Abstract Expressionists, working first in New York in
the early 1950s, and then in Paris for much of the rest of her career. Never afraid to
experiment, Ehrenhalt's work may best be described as bold, even aggressive, in
execution, composition and even color. She worked across media, including oils, works
on paper, prints and etchings, tapestry, design and sculpture.
Amaranth Ehrenhalt died on March 16, 2021 in Manhattan. She was 93. The cause was
Ehrenhalt moved to Paris early in her career and settled there as an expatriate artist for
the next forty-odd years. Le Select Cafe was the place where artists and cognoscenti
met. There Ehrenhalt met Beauford Delaney and Yves Klein (for whom she bought baby
clothes when he couldn't afford them), among others. Sonia Delaunay bought her
painting materials when she had no money. There she befriended Giacometti. And
there she exhibited with, among others, Joan Mitchell, Sam Francis, Shirley Jaffe and
Norman Bluhm, most recently in 2017 at the Mona Bismarck Foundation in Paris as part
of its "American Artists in Paris" exhibition. She was included in the Denver Art
Museum's exhibition "Women of Abstract Expressionism" the year after.
"Ehrenhalt worked under the radar for much of her career. It's possible that's because
she chose to work in Paris when New York was the locus of the art world," said one gallerist.
Like many female artists of the period, she was taken less seriously because she was a
woman. This story, which Ehrenhalt liked to tell, illustrated that fact:
Completed in 1961, her work Jump in and Move Around was shown at an exhibition in
Paris in 1962 along with the work of several other artists. The work was signed
"Ehrenhalt." John Ashbery, the critic for the International Herald Tribune, reviewed the
show and wrote the following: "A key figure among these 31 artists from 14 countries
might be the American Ehrenhalt. [Jump In and Move Around is] both an example of
New York School abstraction (lush colors, fluent brushwork, bustling composition) and
an attempt at a new, possibly eerie, form of figuration."
Several weeks later, Ehrenhalt met Ashberry and thanked him for his review. At first,
Ashbery could not remember the review, but when she reminded him of the piece, he
had this to say: "I never would have reviewed your painting if I had known you
were a woman!"
That work is now in a French museum collection.