Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Leonid Steele: Artist, Master, Legend - The Legacy Lives!

CU Showcase Exhibition

Leonid Steele was an artistic giant with a remarkable life story. His career in art spanned an astounding 75 years.

The very first exhibition of his life was the 1939 World Fair in New York where he was part of the Soviet Children Art Pavilion. Recovering from a concussion during the war in Novosibirsk, he met and studied with the director of the famed Tretiakov Gallery who was evacuated to Siberia and who was one of the very few students of the great Russian Realist master, Isaac Levitan.


Leonid went to Repin Academy after the war and became part of the core generation that revived the full glory of classical Russian Academic tradition and method. He melted that capability into decades of fearless stylistic feats. He moved mountains in ART. He became one of the founding influences of the Severe Style with his 1958 "Dawn." He participated in 11 All-Union exhibitions, the most prestigious in the USSR, a rare fit for a maverick artist who enjoyed public love, but never held any official post in the soviet art bureaucracy. Because of such public love of his work, he had rare mass media coverage of his art totaling around 30 million in circulation.

His output is truly gigantic. He painted masterpieces. He loved life and was loved back generously. He loved people, and his own visual brand of humanistic rendition of the very depths in personal characters made him unique within Socialist Realism. He touched universal humanity while faithfully portraying a nation in its long and tumultuous stretch of history. His style could be termed Humanist Realism.

His legacy and his life's work are now an inseparable part of our common culture, much as his name now belongs fully to our common history.