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Ruth Rogers-Altmann

Ruth Rogers-Altmann (December 31, 1917 - October 11, 2015) was born and educated in Vienna, the daughter of Arnold and Else Karplus. Arnold Karplus, an architect, designed and built many of the renowned modern workers’ housing developments for the Vienna Town Council. 

Besides academic studies, Ruth Karplus, at a young age, studied dance, directing, and music at the Kunsakademie and performed professionally in Vienna. Her fine arts training began at the Frauenakademie and continued at the Kunstgewerbeschule with professor Paris Von Guetersloh, a well-known exponent of Jugendstil, her fashion training was under professor Wimer, an international authority in the fashion world. Her passion for spontaneity of performance, rhythm in dance, and artists of her period like Schiele, Kokoschka, Klimt, and Picasso were continuing influences in her painting.

She emigrated from Austria to the United States in 1938, and with her help, her parents emigrated in 1940, escaping to freedom just before the Nazi Germany Anschluss of Austria. She arrived in New York with the wave of European artists during World War II, and she gravitated to painters of the New York School. In the late 1940s, she worked with Lee Gatch, who had studied with the Cubist Andre Lhote and other School of Paris artists of the 1920s. Gatch’s overlapping planes, symbolism of the cross, and Abstract Expressionist automatic writing all informed Ruth’s painterly vocabulary. 

Ruth Karplus became Ruth Rogers when she married Dr. Martin Rogers in 1938. In 1967, she married Hans Carl Altmann, the first son of the textile magnate Bernhard Altmann, whose family, like hers, had to flee from Vienna after the Nazi takeover. Rogers-Altmann is the cousin, by way of marriage, of renowned Austrian Jewish refugee Maria Altmann.

Ruth Rogers-Altmann also established a career in fashion, particularly as a leading skiwear designer. She was a consultant to the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute. Her color key cast books for Burlington Industries are in the Smithsonian Library Collection. She is listed in the Esquire Encyclopedia of Men’s Designers, Who’s Who of American Women, and Who‘s Who on Women in the World. She was awarded the Silver Medal of Honor of Vienna, Austria, for her outstanding achievements. She was a lecturer at Parsons School of Design, Fashion Institute of Technology, Wood Tube Coburn School of Fashion Merchandising, and Shenkar College of Art and Design, Tel Aviv.

Ruth Rogers-Altmann painted on location, and alternated beach scenes in the Hamptons, the Algarve in Portugal, and farm scenes of County Cork, Ireland with ski scenes in the Swiss Alps, the Andes in Argentina, the Tasman Glacier in New Zealand, the Rockies in Utah, and the Mayan pyramids of Mexico.

Ruth Rogers-Altmann used a method she called, “The Tape Method.” She painted over strips of tape and then removed them, creating unique borders and structure to the composition. Her paintings show a combination of symbolism and abstraction, and define a rhythmic dance of choreographed vivid color hues. 

Stanford University acquired a group of her paintings, which are permanently installed in Florence Moore Hall. Her work can also be found at Columbia University, NY, and at the Alf Engen Museum in the Utah Winter Sports Park, where the Winter Olympics were held. Her paintings can be found in many private collections in the United States, Canada, and Europe. In November 2008, a retrospective of her work was exhibited in Vienna.

Excerpt from Wikipedia and Artists Alliance of East Hamptons website.
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