Maurice Sterne, born in 1877 or 1878 in Memel, Latvia, was a graphic artist, painter and sculptor. He studied at the National Academy of Design in New York from 1894–99. Between 1904 and 1907 Sterne lived in Paris where he became acquainted with the work of Paul Cézanne and French Modernist artists. He came to sculpture in 1908 as a result of seeing marble sculptures from Antiquity in Greece. Between 1911 and 1914 Sterne travelled to Egypt, India, Burma, Java and Bali, returning to the United States in 1915. Sterne’s marriage to the patron of the arts Mabel Dodge only lasted from 1917 until 1918. From then on the artist lived primarily in Anticoli Corrado, Italy and lectured at the Art Student’s League in New York. His artistic breakthrough came after an exhibition at Scott & Fowles in New York in 1926. Sterne did not return to America until 1929 where he ran the ‚Sterne-Grosz Studio – For the Art in Painting’ together with George Grosz in New York from 1932–35. The position of professor of art took Sterne to San Francisco from 1934–36. He became the first American to be given a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1933. The artist died on 23 July, 1957 in Mount Kisko, New York.
Sterne’s style and subjects are strongly marked by various impressions gathered on his travels. Expressionist colouring was combined with Cubist shapes in his paintings. From the 1920s onwards Sterne’s depictions became more natural while the marble works of art from Greek Antiquity continued to influence his work. He received public commissions for monuments and wall paintings. Later his style revealed Impressionist characteristics.
Alfred Flechtheim possibly met Sterne through a group exhibition at Paul Cassirer’s in 1911. Graphic works by the artist were published by Flechtheim’s company and in the magazine ‘Der Querschnitt’. At the New York retrospective in 1933 both Flechtheim and Alex Vömel are mentioned as lenders of works.