Cornelia Kubler Kavanagh


Cornelia Kubler Kavanagh is a daughter of noted art historian George Kubler. Not surprisingly, she was nurtured in an environment rich in the visual arts. A self-taught artist, Kavanagh’s artistic consciousness was informed by extensive travels abroad and studies in South America and Europe. Although she had imagined becoming an artist right after college, she taught history while raising her family, before giving in to her life-long passion for translating ideas into form.

For the past 37 years she has worked exclusively as a sculptor. Teaching herself to carve stone in the Modernist tradition of Moore, Hepworth and Arp, Kavanagh gradually developed a style of her own characterized by rounded, sensual shapes. As demand for her sculpture increased, Kavanagh turned to carving polystyrene, then finishing her maquettes in plaster, resin or polymer for casting in bronze, aluminum and stainless steel.

Although Kavanagh’s subject matter is diverse, she is continually drawn to nature for inspiration, and has mounted several exhibitions that address environmental concerns. These include tsunami waves, “Sea Butterflies” as surrogates for ocean acidification, and ice moulins as markers of global warming. Her most recent museum show, at The Yale Peabody Museum, celebrated the goddess figures of the Upper Paleolithic, the world’s first three-dimensional representations of the female form.

In 2005 Kavanagh represented the United States Virgin Islands Council on the Arts in the 51st Venice Biennale with sculptures honoring her father’s seminal treatise, The Shape of Time (Yale University Press, 1961). From 2013 to 2016, she collaborated with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, in an exhibition titled: FRAGILE BEAUTY: The Art & Science of Sea Butterflies.

In addition, Kavanagh participated in three OPEN exhibitions in Venice-Lido, Miami’s design district during Art Basel Miami Beach, New York’s American Museum of Natural History, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA and SOFA Chicago. For 10 years she was a member of Blue Mountain Gallery in New York where she had three solo exhibitions.

Important installations include the Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, Yale-New Haven Hospital, the Princeton Medical Center in Plainsboro, NJ, the Dwight-Englewood School in Englewood, NJ and the Lancaster Winery in Healdsburg, CA. To see the full range of her work, visit