Los Angeles, CA – Jack Rutberg Fine Arts in Los Angeles, as a participating gallery in the region-wide Getty Foundation endeavor, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, presents an exhibition entitled Rico Lebrun in Mexico. The exhibition opened on January 20, with a preview reception from 6:00 to 9:00 P.M. at the Rutberg gallery located at 357 North La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. This important exhibition opened in tandem with a separate exhibition of works by the major 20th century Latin American sculptor, Francisco Zúñiga.
Rico Lebrun (b. Naples, Italy 1900 – d. Malibu, CA 1964) arrived in the U.S. in 1924. Settling in New York in his first years, Lebrun soon became a highly successful illustrator for such publications as Vanity Fair, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and The New Yorker. In 1934 Lebrun received his first of two successive Guggenheim Fellowships. Having already worked on several murals, he taught life drawing and fresco painting at the Art Students League in New York, before moving to Southern California in 1938.
His impact in Los Angeles proved formidable as both an exhibiting artist and influential teacher at Chouinard Art Institute and the Jepson Art Institute where he ultimately became its director in 1951. In the 1940s Lebrun was among the very few artists of Los Angeles to be included in major museums in New York, including the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum and the Metropolitan Museum, which purchased his painting Bull Ring in 1945. Lebrun’s first solo exhibition was presented at the legendary Julian Levy Gallery in New York in 1944. Lebrun was exhibited so widely in major museums and galleries throughout the nation that he ranked among the most widely cited artists in America. In 1967, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art organized a major retrospective exhibition, which traveled to six other institutions including the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, in Mexico City and the National Collection of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C.
This exhibition, Rico Lebrun in Mexico, focuses attention on the period when Lebrun moved to San Miguel de Allende in 1952 to teach art at the Instituto Allende. There a new generation of Mexican artists was introduced to and inspired by Rico Lebrun, who distinguished himself not only as a painter and compelling draftsman, but also as a formidable muralist. His most widely known monumental scale works are the Crucifixion triptych, completed and exhibited at LACMA in 1950, now in the permanent collection at Syracuse University, NY, and Genesis, a mural completed in 1960 at Pomona College.
In Mexico, Lebrun found a landscape and a people that resonated with the color, drama and passions he had grown up with in his native Naples. Capturing everyday life and scenes in the town and marketplace, Lebrun painted vivid tableaus combining strong, dynamic lines, semi-abstract figuration and dense compositions, often incorporating collaged elements. Included in the exhibition are selected drawings which exemplify Lebrun’s expressive style and rarely seen monumental scale paintings and collages, including Mexican Street in the Rain, shown in LACMA’s 1967 touring Lebrun retrospective exhibition.
Rico Lebrun in Mexico offers a rare opportunity to view the works of one of the major American artists based in Los Angeles, and illustrates how Los Angeles’ modern art history converges with the modern art history of Mexico. That history is further underscored by the Jack Rutberg Fine Arts’ prior exhibitions presented in concert with PST: LA/LA, Artists of Mexico and Hans Burkhardt in Mexico.
Rico Lebrun in Mexico opened in tandem with a separate exhibition, Francisco Zuniga: Sculpture & Drawings, and extends through April 28 at Jack Rutberg Fine Arts.