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Helen Lundeberg (1908 – 1999)

Updated: 7 days ago

Flowers and Arches, 1943, oil on board, initialed and dated lower left, 4 x 7 1/8 inches, presented in an older, but likely not original frame


Helen Lundeberg was a leading California modernist, who is well regarded for her metaphysical, surrealist, post-surrealist, and hard edge paintings, as well as WPA Era murals. A Chicago native, Lundeberg moved with her family to Pasadena, California at the age of four. Although a bright and capable student, Lundeberg’s future was uncertain at the beginning of the Great Depression, since her family struggled financially. She enrolled in Pasadena City College and then with support from a family friend, Helen Leddy, Lundeberg attended the nearby Stickney School of Art, where she met fellow artist, instructor and future husband, Lorser Feitelson.

By 1931, Lundeberg routinely entered juried exhibitions and in 1933 she had her first solo show at Los Angeles’ Stanley Rose Gallery. In 1934, Lundeberg and Feitelson founded the Post-Surrealist Movement with their manifesto entitled, New Classicism. During the 1930s and 1940s, Lundeberg exhibited extensively, including at the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. She worked for the WPA’s Federal Arts Project and completed six murals (either painted or mosaic) in Southern California.

Likely in reaction to the large scale of her public works murals, Lundeberg began creating small “postcard” paintings in 1942, often drawing on memory and imagination, rather than reality. Flowers and Arches is typical of these works in which the influence of Giorgio de Chirico and Salvador Dali is evident.

From the 1950s onward, Lundeberg returned to larger scale paintings as her work became sparer and more edited, eventually tending towards hard edge abstraction, though she rarely abandoned completely references to landscape and architecture. Lundeberg was honored with many solo museum exhibitions, including at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Laguna Art Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Art, and the Palms Springs Desert Museum. She is represented in the permanent collections of more then thirty museums and public collections, including the Museum of fine Arts Boston, the Whitney Museum of Modern Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Sheldon Memorial Art Museum and Smithsonian American Art Museum.  Lundeberg is listed in Who Was Who in American Art and all other standard references.


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