Ida Kohlmeyer, Iconic New Orleans painter


Ida Kohlmeyer (1912 – 1997)  is now considered the most significant New Orleans painter of the modern period. Her larger canvases can bring up to around $80,000 even at auction.

Early career

Born to Polish immigrant parents, Ida Kohlmeyer matriculated at Newcomb College, which had become a nourishing birthplace for a resurgence in southern art beginning early in the 20th century. By the 1950’s, Kohlmeyer was able to study such famous modernists as Hans Hoffman and Mark Rothko. This influence shows clearly in her early work. Some paintings have elements of color field painting, and others an expressionistic or painterly flourish.


In the 70’s, she developed her now iconic “language” of colorful “hieroglyphics” for which she is best known. It is these paintings that fetch the highest prices in the secondary market. Naturally she has been shown quite a bit at the New Orleans Museum of Art and was a mainstay in galleries. But she was also given a show at the Atlanta High Museum of art in the 1970’s, a retrospective of her work up until that time. In 2012, the New Orleans Museum of Art featured her work during a centennial celebration of her birth.

Ida Kohlmeyer’s iconic “hieroglyph” style

Fortunately, signed prints of many of Kohlmeyer’s images were made. That’s why it is possible to buy examples of her work for an affordable price. Even the small originals typically reach around $5,000 at auction, and more in galleries. Her prices have held up well and risen impressively over the years, probably as much as the work of any later New Orleans mid-century artist. This great New Orleans painter died in 1997 at the age of 84.

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