David Robbins, Ryah Ludins and Balcomb Greene working on a mural, 1939. Federal Art Project, Photographic Division collection, circa 1920-1965. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Ryah Ludins, Bombing, ca. 1940s. Engraving, aquatint, soft-ground etching, plate: 9 7/8 x 12 in. (25 x 30.5 cm), sheet: 14 1/8 x 19 ½ in. (36 x 49.5 cm). British Museum, Gift of Désirée Hayter, 2012,7025.28. © Ryah Ludins. Photo courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.

53. Ryah Ludins

Life Dates1896-1957
Place of BirthRussia
Place of DeathNew York, NY, USA
Birth NameRyah Ludins

Ryah Ludins was born in 1896 and, with her parents and three younger siblings, emigrated from Russia to the United States in 1904.1 They settled in the Bronx near the Grand Concourse, and her father became an architect.2 Ludins attended Teachers College at Columbia University from 1917 until 1925. In 1922, she earned a BS in Fine Arts and a Diploma in Education (Teacher of Fine Arts), and she completed a graduate program in 1925.3 Simultaneously, she entered the Art Students League in 1923, taking a year of life classes with Kenneth Hayes Miller.4 Later in the 1920s, she went to France where she studied with André Lhote, and she would eventually also visit the Polytechnic Institute in Mexico City.5 Settled back in New York, she taught summer sessions at Teachers College in 1929, 1932, 1936, and 1938 (Leon Polk Smith was among her students).6 Ludins was employed in the mural division of the Works Progress Administration and completed a fresco called Central Park for Bellvue Hospital.7 She also continued to have a robust artistic exchange with Mexico, creating murals for the State Museum at Morelia, Michoacan.8 She must have hear about Hayter and his studio through her New York network, and she produced at least one engraving entitled Bombing (1945) which she exhibited with the Atelier 17 group twice, first at the Willard Gallery (1945) and again at the Leicester Galleries (1947). Unfortunately, an impression of this print has not yet been located. Ludins produced a number of lithographs throughout her career, most of which represent landscapes, seascapes, and urban scenery. In her final years, Ludins lived and taught at the Hotel Chelsea, where she passed away in 1957.


Ryah Ludins portfolio, circa 1920-1950, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Selected Bibliography

Bartlett, Eliot. Anchor to Windward. Lincoln, MA: Harlackenden Press, 1989.

Ludins, Ryah. “A Child’s Point of View.” Art Ftont, February 1937, 16–17.

“Miss Ryah Ludins, Painter, Teacher.” New York Times, August 31, 1957.

“Ryah Ludins.” In The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 50:668. New York: J.T. White, 1967.

The Federal Art Project: American Prints from the 1930s in the Collection of the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Museum of Art, 1985.


  1. Most biographical information pulled from “Ryah Ludins,” in The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, vol. 50 (New York: J.T. White, 1967), 668; “Miss Ryah Ludins, Painter, Teacher,” New York Times, August 31, 1957, 15; Eliot Bartlett, Anchor to Windward (Lincoln, MA: Harlackenden Press, 1989), 37–45.
  2. Information gleaned from David George Ludins’s passport application, May 14, 1918. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C. Roll #: 518; Volume #: Roll 0518 - Certificates: 17500-17749, 14 May 1918-16 May 1918.
  3. Thank you to Sandra Afflick, Assistant Registrar for Operations and Records, Teachers College, Columbia University, email to Christina Weyl, May 5, 2017.
  4. Student registration card, Art Students League of New York.
  5. There are conflicting accounts about who Ludins studied with in Paris. Most sources say André Lhote, but one source says Amédée Ozenfant and Charles Edouard Jeaneret, more famously known as Le Corbusier. See Bartlett, Anchor to Windward, 37.
  6. Thank you to Columbia University Archives, for sharing her appointment card and course descriptions. Joanna Rios, email to Christina Weyl, January 9, 2017.
  7. For more on Ludin’s employment with the WPA, see Kimn Carlton-Smith, “A New Deal for Women: Women Artists and the Federal Art Project, 1935-1939” (PhD diss., Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 1990), 322, 330, 312; The Federal Art Project: American Prints from the 1930s in the Collection of the University of Michigan Museum of Art (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Museum of Art, 1985), 110–11.
  8. In 2009, Ludins’s brother Eugene donated a portfolio about her murals to the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.