Born and raised within the Orthodox Jewish community in Borough Park, Brooklyn, Helène Aylon (d. 2020, New York, NY) was married to a rabbi at the age of eighteen. While in her mid-twenties, she quietly enrolled as an art major at Brooklyn College, taking classes with Ad Reinhardt who became her friend and mentor, and arranged for a studio visit with Mark Rothko, a transformative event for the young artist. After she became widowed, with two young children at the age of thirty, she chose to to enter the secular art world.
Aylon's professional art career began in the 1960s with mural commissions at Kennedy Airport and the New York University Medical Center. Her first solo shows in New York took place in 1970 and 1972 at the Max Hutchinson Gallery followed by one person exhibitions in 1975 and 1979 at the prestigious Betty Parsons Gallery, her last New York representative until she joined Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects in 2018.
Helène Aylon has participated in one-person and group shows in museums and galleries throughout the United States, Europe, and Israel including, among many others, the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; MoMA PS1; the Berkeley Art Museum; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles: the Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, Conn.; and the Jewish Museum, New York. Recent group exhibitions have included Shifting Terrain at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2019–2020) and By Any Means: Contemporary Drawings from the Morgan, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York (2019).
She has been the recipient of numerous honors including, among many others, awards from the Pollock Krasner Foundation, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus for Art. Works by the artist are in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Oakland Museum of California; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; the Jewish Museum, New York; the Morgan Library and Museum; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and those of many other distinguished institutions and private individuals.
Helène Aylon: Elusive Silver 1969–1973, the artist's first solo show in a New York gallery in forty years, took place in 2019 at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects.