"Rebus 92-3" by Ida Kohlmeyer Ida Kohlmeyer (1912–1997)
Rebus 92-3
Painted aluminum
93 x 56 x 22 inches
Museum purchase; 1996.031

The bright, playful, pictographic forms that compose this Ida Kohlmeyer sculpture present a puzzle to the viewer who tries to interpret the artist's language. The term "rebus" refers to a kind of puzzle consisting of pictures of things combined so as to suggest words or phrases. While her visual language may most closely resemble the pictographs of Mayan culture, the New Orleans artist herself assigned no meaning to the pictographs that regularly appeared in her painting and sculpture.

Kohlmeyer's approach to sculpture was unconventional. To create a large sculpture, she would start with a maquette or model. A contracted artist or metalworking firm under her direction replicated the maquette in aluminum in a larger size. The welded sculpture was then sandblasted and sprayed with marine primer. Polyurethane enamel colors were mixed to match the maquette's original oil colors and then applied with brushes in layers. Once the sculpture had been painted, a waiting period of six weeks allowed the paint to thoroughly dry. A clear coating of catalyzed polyurethane was applied uniformly to the surface of the sculpture following this period. This coating is similar to that applied to automobiles to protect their painted surfaces from abrasion and weathering.