Harold Lehman, was an award winning painter, muralist and sculptor, and co-founder of the only indigenous American school of Surrealism.
Lehman's work as an American artist encompassed seven decades. Although born and raised in New York City, his journey as a professional artist began in the 1930s in Los Angeles. In California, he received several major awards for his work including a second prize in the prestigious14 th Annual Los Angles County exhibition in 1933.
Along with Phil Guston, Reuben Kadish, Helen Lundeberg and Lorser Fietelson, Lehman was a founding member of the Post-Surrealists, an avant-garde group of California artists active in Los Angeles in the 1930s and 40s. One of his most renowned works from that period, Portrait of A Dancerwith a Sculptor , recently appeared in the National Academy of Design's major 2005 exhibition on Surrealism USA, as well as the 2002 Post-Surrealist exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of California Art.
While in Los Angeles, Lehman also worked with the great Mexican muralist D.A. Siqueiros on several murals. He maintained close ties with the artist and later invited Siqueiros to New York for an “experimental workshop” attended by the cream of American artists including Jackson Pollock.
Active as a muralist for the WPA in Los Angeles and New York, Lehman completed several major murals. Lehman designed Man's Daily Bread, a massive (20'x70') mural for the cafeteria of Riker's Island Penitentiary in New York City. As he noted about the subject matter,
"It seemed to me that a theme that had some connection with not only the handling of food, but the idea of earning one's bread by one's own sweat so to speak, would have some good constructive connection with that prison without being an obvious lecture."
Lehman's art was constantly evolving. He never stayed with one approach, medium, or technique in creating paintings, sculpture, and drawings. Towards the end of his life he created computer art, which can be seen in this website. His daughter, Lisa Lehman Trager, produced the site as an homage, virtual gallery and biography of her father’s life.
His personal association with, D.A. Siqueiros and Jackson Pollock, and his participation in the Federal Art Project made Mr. Lehman a valuable source of first hand information to authors, museums, and scholars. Lehman is a past member of the National Society of Mural Painters, The Woodstock Artists Association, The United American Artists, as well as the United Scenic Artists. In addition to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, his work can be found in the National Gallery of Art; the Wolfsonian Foundation in Miami Beach, Florida; and in many private collections.
Following a short illness, on April 2, 2006, at the age of 92, he passed away. (See Obituary) He was survived by his wife Leona, who also passed away in 2011. Surviving Mr. and Mrs. Lehman are their two children, Harold and Lisa, and two grandchildren.
All images and text contained in this site are the sole property of Lisa Lehman Trager and the estate of the Harold Lehman. Written permission is required for copy or use. For further information, contact Lisa Lehman Trager.