Lynn Leland, A. M. Sachs Gallery, 1965

Lynn Leland

Lynn Leland was born in 1937 in Buffalo, NY. He studied at Pratt Institute in New York, and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Europe in 1961, where he attended the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg studying with the British sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi.

Returning to New York, he exhibited at The Preston Gallery and A.M. Sachs Gallery and, on the recommendation of the curator Henry Geldzahler, his work was included in the influential exhibition 'The Responsive Eye', held at The Museum of Modern Art in 1965. His work was also included in the following group exhibitions; Albright-Knox Museum, 1960; Brooklyn Museum Biennial, 1960; "Optics & Kinetics", Ohio University, 1965-66; "Multiplicity", ICA, Boston, 1966; The Jewish Museum, 1966 (works from the Harry Abrams collection).

Throughout the 1960s, Leland's abstract work remained focused on the optical effect of ordered grids of colored circles - based partially on the artist's interest in contemporary musical composition. However, by the early 1970s he had become disillusioned with the art market and stopped exhibiting, focusing instead on a career as an art educator.
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"Despite it cool deliberation, Leland's mathematical form of perceptual art is of a high aesthetic order. The basis for Leland's form stems from techniques used by composers such as Schoenberg, Alban Berg, et al. In fact the titles of his pictures are all dedicated to composers. Edgar Varese and Stockhausen among them come as no surprise. Leland works in series of paintings which he calls "Permutations." A permutation is by dictionary definition the arrangement of any determinate number of things in all possible orders one after the other. For instance, twenty-four small square canvases in a single group demonstrate every possible variation effected with four colors playing within the same pattern of tiny circles. The number of rings around the circles determines the number of possible solutions. The interesting thing about these series is that the retinal play is not limited to each canvas but extends to its neighbor. Action takes place no matter in what order the eye moves from one painting to another. One's perceptual response to one panel is carried over to the next.Leland is represented in the Museum of Modern Art's comprehensive "The Responsive Eye" exhibit besides this one - and for good reason."
Jacqueline Barnitz, Arts Magazine, April 1965
(exhibition at A. M. Sachs Gallery)

"Lynn Leland's paintings at the the new A. M. Sachs Gallery are more interesting than [Reginald] Neal's and [Ben] Cunningham's [within the context of three op art shows being reviewed]. Leland is twenty-seven. He had a show in 1962 of small paintings that were geometric simplifications of the human body, usually truncated. The color and surface, like both in this show, were opulent.The earlier paintings were thorough and these are too, and are more unusual. Each painting is a field of many small circles. If anything is optical these are, but Leland is supposed to not think them so. "They are symmetrical, thus static in two dimensions, but are dynamic in space due to one's perception." "They are serial compositions -" There is a set of twenty-four paintings, each twelve by twelve inches, using the alternatives of four colors: twenty-four is the limit possible. Each circle is made of a ring of one color and a center another color. The circles don't touch one another and jointly they make a scalloped edge around the painting, leaving a narrow border of another color. One painting has red centers in blue rings on a yellow ground bordered by green. ANother is green with yellow on blue with red. Some larger paintings have five colors, which allow 120 variations - Leland hasn't finished the set. The paintings are convincing; the color is good. The small scale though makes the color somewhat tonal. The color, which is usually a clear combination, blends from a few feet away. The scalloped border is a little picayune. Leland's paintings don't compare to [Larry] Poons' [reviewed in the same issue].'
Donald Judd, Art International, September 1965
(exhibition at A. M. Sachs Gallery)

"Lynn Leland's quarter- and fifty-cent-size circles serve as a playground for vibrant colors. Leland evolves his paintings mathematically, but they deal a strong emotional impact. It could be argued that, as compared to Da Vinci's and Veronese's initial mathematical canvas subdivisions (to cite only two examples), Leland's paintings remain in the skeletal form. But nonetheles they are beautiful. His rational and well-ordered language is exalted by the quality of the yellows, blues, magentas, greens and reds, which undulate in clusters. Leland's chromatic harmonies extend far beyond whatever formula he might have applied to achieve his end. What is more, the retinal gymnastics induced by the paintings invite deeper perceptual experience without causing malaise. Lelan'ds pictures can evoke a sunlit morning in the country or Times Square on New Year's Eve."
Jacqueline Barlitz, Arts Magazine, May 1966
(exhibition at A. M. Sachs Gallery)