Portrait of an Artist

Self-portrait, 1944 by Helen Lundeberg Photo: Laguna Art Museum
Self-portrait, 1944 by Helen Lundeberg Photo: Laguna Art Museum

Helen Lundeberg was born in Chicago in 1908. At the age of four her family moved to Pasadena, California.  She was a gifted child and as a young adult was inclined to become a writer.  After graduating Pasadena High School in 1925, a family friend sponsored Lundeberg’s attendance at the Stickney Memorial School of Art. There, she was a pupil of Lorser Feitelson, a New York artist recently returned from Paris. Eventually, Feitelson and Lundeberg married and remained lifelong artistic collaborators. Together they founded a new style of art called New Classicism or Post Surrealism. They described this art as a fusion of the dreamlike style of Surrealism with the formal structure of Renaissance paintings.

From 1936 to 1942, Lundeberg was employed by the Works Progress Administrations’s Federal Art Project for which she produced lithographs, easel paintings, and murals in the Los Angeles area.

Pioneers of the American West .1908 by Helen Lundeberg. Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum.
WPA Mural: Pioneers of the American West .1908 by Helen Lundeberg. Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Irises, 1936 by Helen Lundeberg
Irises, 1936 by Helen Lundeberg
Artist Flowers and Hemispheres, 1934
Artist Flowers and Hemispheres, 1934

Her work often contained paintings within paintings as in one of her best known paintings shown below.

Double Portrait of Artist in Time, 1935 by Helen Lundeberg. Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum
Double Portrait of Artist in Time, 1935 by Helen Lundeberg. Credit:
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Selma (Portrait of the Artist's Mother) 1957
Selma (Portrait of the Artist’s Mother) 1957
Helen Lundeberg and Lorser Feitelson, 1974 Photo by Fidel Danieli in the Archives American Art
Helen Lundeberg and Lorser Feitelson, 1974 Photo by Fidel Danieli in the Archives American Art

In the 1960s and 1970s, Lundeberg continued her journey through abstraction, exploring imagery associated with landscapes, interiors, still lifes, planetary forms and intuitive compositions she called enigmas. She switched to liquid acrylic paint that allowed her to depict brighter and fresher colors. In the 1980s, Lundeberg created her final body of work – a confident series of paintings that deal with landscapes and architectural elements.

Forms in Space, 1971 by Helen Lundeberg
Forms in Space, 1971 by Helen Lundeberg
Blue Planet, acrylic on canvas by Helen Lundeberg
Blue Planet, acrylic on canvas by Helen Lundeberg

Repeatedly described as formal and lyrical, Lundeberg’s paintings rely on precise cacompositions that utilize various restricted palettes. This creates images that posses a certain moodiness or emotional content unique to her work.

Untitled, 1967 by Helen Lundeberg
Untitled, by Helen Lundeberg
Untitled (March), 1969 by Helen Lundeberg. Credit: Louis Stern Fine Art
Untitled (March), 1969 by Helen Lundeberg. Credit: Louis Stern Fine Art
Interior with painting, 1982 by Helen Lundeberg
Helen Lundeberg in her stuidio ca. 1982 by Harry Carmea
Helen Lundeberg in her studio ,1982 by Harry Carmea

Throughout her 60-year career, Lundeberg imbued her work with a personal vision, exposing the imaginative world of her mind.  Created with a palette of muted hues, Lundeberg paintings are best known for radiating a sense of calm and order.  She died from complications with pneumonia at the age of 91.

 

 

 

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