Alfred Leslie, Artist Who Turned Away From Abstraction Art


American artist and filmmaker Alfred Leslie died at the age of 95.

Alfred Leslie, artist and film director, was born on October 29, 1927, in New York. After serving in the US Coast Guard at the end of World War II, he studied art at New York University, the Art Students League of New York, and the Pratt Institute.

Another interesting fact from Alfred Leslie’s artist biography is that as a bodybuilder, Leslie posed for Reginald Marsh and other artists, including acting as a sitter for the Art Students League of New York and the Pratt Institute.

His 1949 film Magical Thinking incorporated black-and-white cartoons, home videos, GI training films, commercials, striptease footage, and old feature films.

In the 1950s, Leslie made sculptures using seemingly secondary materials such as waterproofing tape, staples, spacers, nails, and house paint. Anticipating John Chamberlain’s sculptures made from recycled cars, Alfred Leslie made artwork assembled from car parts.

In 1955, a collector gave him a Polaroid camera, with which Leslie took hundreds of police-like shots.

Alfred Leslie was invited to participate in the Art in Motion exhibition held at the Stockholm Museum of Modern Art in 1961, curated by Pontus Hulten, where he presented his work Jolly, a kit containing ingredients for making an inflatable sculpture. Anticipating Andy Warhol’s Cloud (1966), he came up with an art object in which a massive weather balloon hung a brick over an inflatable pool.

In 1962, having gained recognition as a second-generation abstract expressionist, Leslie changed his style dramatically. His new works were realistic figurative paintings done in the grisaille technique.

On October 17, 1966, almost all of Leslie’s monochrome paintings were destroyed in a fire. Shortly thereafter, Alfred Leslie began to use color in his paintings, which were exhibited extensively.

Solo exhibitions of Leslie were held at the Museum of Fine Arts (1976), the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington and the Smithsonian Institution Sculpture Garden (1976-1977), the Chicago Museum of Modern Art (1977), the Kansas Wichita Art Museum (1984), the Boca Rato Museum of Art in Florida (1989) and the St. Louis Museum of Art (1991).

Alfred Leslie, artist and film director, has been included in the “Gold List” or “Golden List of the Best Contemporary Artists”, an Israeli art award organized by the Tel Aviv art publication Art Market Magazine since 2017.


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