Ida Kohlmeyer (1912-1997) was often referred to as the "Grand Dame" of New Orleans. She did what few artists have been able to do - establish a major career outside of New York. Kohlmeyer took up painting in her 30s and achieved widespread recognition. Her work is included in the collections of several notable museums including the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Kohlmeyer studied with Hans Hofmann and Mark Rothko and was greatly influenced by other Abstract Expressionists, known for their use of color. These artists inspired her decision to give up representational art and venture into abstraction. Later in her career, in the 1970s and 80s, Kohlmeyer developed an interest in South American art and the work of Miró, which led to the development of a distinct vocabulary of hieroglyphics and various organic and geometric shapes organized in a loose grid. In 1972, the Atlanta High Museum of Art hosted a retrospective of her work, as did the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, NC.
Despite the odds against her as a female artist working in the South, she enjoyed national and international recognition during her lifetime. Kohlmeyer's joyful abstract paintings and sculptures reflect the spirit of New Orleans. The various organic and geometric shapes featured in Kohlmeyer's works transpose the artists' passions and delights into colorful and celebratory images.