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Lennart Anderson

1928-2015

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Lennart Anderson knew from a young age that he wanted to be an artist. He studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and then at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. He moved to New York City in the mid-1950s, studied briefly at the Art Students League under Edwin Dickinson, and lived on East 10th Street, then a hub of the abstract expressionists.

Although Anderson never worked exclusively from observation, he became known as a leading proponent of perceptual painting. In a 2013 interview with the Vision & Art Project, he talked about how, from early in his career, he “hunkered down” and pursued what interested him. This included painting street scenes and bacchanals from a combination of perception and imagination, and still lifes, portraits, and figures from observation. By his own admission, he was deeply influenced by the work of historical painters—among others, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Edgar Degas, Diego Velázquez, and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.

He was the recipient of many important awards, including a Rome Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His work is in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. He taught at Columbia, Princeton, and Yale, and served as a distinguished professor emeritus at Brooklyn College.

Lennart Anderson’s right eye was affected by macular degeneration in 2001. For the next six years, he relied on his left eye alone, with little change to either his paintings or his painting practice. When his left eye succumbed in 2007, he experimented with continuing to work from life, but this proved impossible, and he began working from a combination of imagination, memory, and perception.

Lennart Anderson in his studio in Park Slope, Brooklyn, in 2012.
Photo by Jason Houston for AMDF.
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