BROOKVILLE, NY.- Remarkable artists and innovators, Ilya Bolotowsky and Esphyr Slobodkina both played an important role in the development of abstract art in the United States. Displaced by the Russian Revolution of 1917 and subsequent Civil War of 1918, Bolotowsky and Slobodkina arrived in New York City in the 1920s. They studied art at the National Academy of Design: Bolotowsky from 1924 to 1930 and Slobodkina from 1928 to 1933. Myrrah Bolotowsky, Ilya's sister and also a student at the academy, introduced Esphyr to her brother. Two years later, in 1933, they married.
During the 1960s and 1970s, both Bolotowsky and Slobodkina were recognized as pioneers of abstract art in the United States. Their paintings from the 1930s and 1940s were viewed as antecedents to the hard-edge and Minimal Art that followed Abstract Expressionism. In 1974 Ilya Bolotowsky was honored with a retrospective exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Slobodkina, who lived to be 93 years old, continued to develop her work in a broad range of media, including painting, sculpture, collage, constructions, wall hangings, children's book illustrations, murals, and couture dressmaking.