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HELFENSTELLER, VERONICA

HELFENSTELLER, VERONICA (1910–1964). Veronica Helfensteller, painter, printmaker, and member of the Fort Worth School of artists, was born on February 7, 1910, in Fort Worth. As a child she studied art with Sallie Blythe Mummert. At age eighteen she studied for a year at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts; she later attended the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and the Fort Worth School of Fine Arts. She broadened her exposure to art with a sketching tour of Europe in 1937, during which she studied with Hungarian artists.

She worked in a realistic style characterized by flowing rhythms and dramatic contrasts of light and dark. As subject matter she favored animals and fantasy figures in exotic settings and excelled at evoking a brooding atmosphere in works such as One Autumn Day (n.d.), a gouache depicting a rain-washed church and cemetery, and the prize-winning print The Three Guardians (n.d.), in which three wraithlike figures emerge from a Gothic mansion. A Surrealist influence shaped such works as Beauty and the Beast (ca. 1950), a semiabstract engraving representing a nude woman merging with a beast made up of a bird, lion, and other animals. Together with Bror Utter and Lia Cuilty, Helfensteller initiated printmaking experiments in the Fort Worth circle of artists, and her studio became the site for weekly printmaking sessions after the group expanded to include Kelly Fearing, Flora Blanc, and Edward Dickson Reeder. Adept in many media, Helfensteller was one of the few artists in the group to study the lithography and engraving processes in depth.

She exhibited her work throughout the country, in shows sponsored by the American Water Color Society in New York, the American Society of Etchers, New York, the National Academy, New York, the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, and the Texas Printmakers, Dallas, as well as in group exhibitions in California, Oklahoma, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Ohio, and Washington, D.C. In Texas she won awards at the Texas General exhibition (1940 and 1943), the Dallas Print Society (1941 and 1945), the Texas Federation exhibition (1942 and 1943), and the Fort Worth annual exhibition (1942 and 1943). In 1944 Helfensteller's work was featured in a solo exhibition at the Fort Worth Public Library, and she was included in the exhibition Six Texas Painters at the Weyhe Gallery in New York City. She was a member of the Southern States Art League, the Baltimore Watercolor Club, the California Watercolor Society, Southern Printmakers, and the Printmaker's Guild.

In her later years Helfensteller left Fort Worth and spent time in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Phoenix, Arizona. She married Haakon Ogle, and they had a son. After her death her work was included in Beyond Regionalism: The Fort Worth School (1945–1955), organized by the Old Jail Art Center in Albany in 1986; The Texas Printmakers, 1940–1965 (1990), organized by the Meadows Museum, Dallas; and Prints of the Fort Worth Circle, 1940–1960 (1992), organized by the Archer M. Huntington Art Galleryqv at the University of Texas at Austin. Examples of her work are in the collections of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and the Old Jail Art Center, Albany.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Beyond Regionalism: The Fort Worth School (1945–1955): A Texas Sesquicentennial Exhibition (Albany, Texas: Old Jail Art Center, 1986). Paul Rogers Harris, The Texas Printmakers, 1940–1965 (Dallas: Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University, 1990). Jerry Bywaters Collection on the Art of the Southwest, Southern Methodist University.

Kendall Curlee

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Kendall Curlee, "HELFENSTELLER, VERONICA," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhefa), accessed August 21, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.