Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art to Open David A. Leffel Retrospective
The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University presents David A. Leffel: The Mastery of Light-A Retrospective from May 14 - August 7, 2016. There will be a reception to meet the artist on Saturday, May 14, from 5 to 7 p.m. There is no admission charge and the public is invited to attend.
The exhibition is the first major retrospective for the 84-year-old artist, who in the 1960s broke with mainstream abstraction by reviving the art of the Old Masters. Approximately 50 paintings from the past 50 years will be featured-showcasing portraiture, still lifes, and landscapes of this revered artist, author and teacher-revealing why he is regarded as a modern day Rembrandt by art critics and collectors alike.
"I planned the David Leffel retrospective to follow immediately after an exhibition of work by Andy Warhol," said Michael Zakian, Director of the Weisman Museum. "The parallels are fascinating. They were born only a few years apart and both worked as commercial illustrators in New York in the 1950s. The difference is that Warhol went on to reuse images from advertising to create Pop Art. Leffel wanted an art of greater depth and substance and chose to dedicate himself to revive forgotten techniques and learn to paint like the Old Masters."
"With David A. Leffel: The Mastery of Light, we have a rare opportunity to examine how David Leffel developed a powerful, personal style that explores the magic and mystery of light, as the exhibition chronicles his journey in becoming one of today's great masters of traditional realist art," said Zakian.
Leffel was a child prodigy. For most of his first 15 years, he lived in hospitals battling an often-fatal bone disease, osteomyelitis. Confined to hospital beds-and even a full body cast for many years-he passed the time by drawing from comic books, magazine photographs, and his own imagination. The exhibition begins with an uncanny pencil drawing of famed baseball player Joe DiMaggio, created by Leffel at age twelve.
In 1947, the disease went into remission, allowing Leffel to return home to Brooklyn to attend high school. After graduation, he enrolled at Parsons, intent on becoming a commercial artist. Leffel participated in the booming "Mad Men" era of Madison Avenue advertising but found the work unfulfilling. He left commercial art in 1959 and enrolled in an oil painting class with Frank Mason at the Art Students League, wanting to learn how to paint like Rembrandt, but only remained there for a few months.