Richard Brown Lethem first visited Madrid’s Prado Museum in 1960 as a student. “The profound impression made on me at that point by Goya’s ink and wash drawings was indelible,” he says. “The graphic work leading to “The Caprichos” and the “Disasters of War” series of etchings intrigued me and fed my imagination over 45 years of making art.”
In 2005 he returned to the Prado but this time was drawn to Goya’s early tapestry cartoon paintings and his celebration of worldly pleasures in the daily life of the period. “These fresh and exuberant works,” he says, “present a carnival of human activity in the open air, the spectacle of children’s games, lovers’ rendezvous, fairs, hunters and animals at play, families at picnic with music making.” One picture, in particular, attracted his eye—a kite flyer.
Lethem’s subject matter of recent years has gravitated toward a similar theme in contemporary terms. His paintings are narratives of the extended family, both human and animal, interacting and performing in a carnival of daily life. “If I am accused in these lighter paintings of escaping from the grim reality of recent American history, I plead guilty,” he says.
Richard Brown Lethem was educated at the Kansas City Art Institute, and at Columbia University where he received a master’s degree in l957. In l959 he spent a year in Europe on a Fulbright Fellowship and worked at the Grande Chaumiere. He has taught at Columbia University, the University of Kentucky, the Kansas City Art Institute, and the University of Southern Maine where he is currently on the faculty. He has had 20 one-person gallery exhibitions and has shown nationally in numerous museum shows. In 1994 he moved from Brooklyn, New York to Berwick, Maine where he now lives and works. For more information, see www.richardlethem.com.
January 16 – March 6, 2006