Helen Lundeberg

American, 1908 - 1999

Windblown, 1964, oil on canvas, 40 x 60 inches

Helen Lundeberg was a Southern Californian painter, credited with establishing the Post-Surrealist husband along with her husband Lorser Feitelson.

Lundeberg was an exceptional student and avid reader in her youth, and originally aimed to become a writer.  She graduated from Pasadena Junior College in 1930 and enrolled in art classes at the Stickney Memorial School of Art in Pasadena, where she met her future husband, Lorser Feitelson.  During her early art career, she was working in both social realist and post-surrealist styles.  She first showed her work at the Fine Arts Gallery in San Diego in 1931, and had her first solo exhibition at the Stanley Rose Gallery in Los Angeles in 1933, the same year she married Feitelson.

Lundeberg and Feitelson founded Subjective Classicism, which later became known as Post Surrealism, in 1934.  This was the first focused American response to European Surrealism.  Unlike the European movement, American artists did not rely on dream imagery, but instead used planned subjects to guide the viewer through the work, gradually revealing deeper themes.

From 1936 to 1942, Lundeberg was employed by the Works Progress Administration, for which she produced a series of three murals, Preamble to the Constitution, Free Assembly, and Free Ballot for the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in Los Angeles.  The murals were removed in the 1970s and unfortunately are now considered lost.

In the 1950s, Lundeberg’s work evolved towards geometric abstraction and Hard Edge painting.  Her paintings from this era exist somewhere between abstraction and figuration, with precise compositions and restricted color palettes. She employed “mood entity,” a Post Surrealist concept concerned with evoking a state of mind and emotion specific to each work.  Lundeberg continued her abstract explorations through the 1960s and 70s, with imagery of landscapes, planetary forms, interiors, and intuitive compositions she called “enigmas.”  In the 1980s, her work focused on landscapes and architectural elements.

She died at the age of 91, with a 60-year legacy of work imbued with a strong personal vision and subtle palette.