‘Fluxism’ - The 1960s Watercolors of Harvey Leepa
Over a long and varied career the Russian-born, California-based artist Harvey Leepa (1887-1977) had experimented with a variety of styles - as well as designing sets for the theater, working in the film industry, and building his own modernist house in Los Angeles - but in the late 1930s he developed a unique, loose, flowing manner of watercolor painting. Described by the artist as 'Fluxism', the style had originated when Leepa, painting a watercolor, "mistook a glass of vodka for water, a natural mistake for vodka means 'little water'. It was this fortunate error that made my water colors images of dislodged and ambiguous worlds. Vestiges of realism crash in and out of my abstractions."(1)
Living for many decades a secluded life in Summerland, near Santa Barbara, Leepa spent these years focused on this style of work; allowing flowing colors to merge freely on water-saturated paper, the finished work appearing only gradually as the artist kept different areas of the paper in flux.
These watercolors were first brought to wide public notice with exhibitions at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, the Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, and the Palm Springs Desert Museum in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and we are very happy to be introducing them to collectors again.
(1) Los Angleles Times, 16 Feb 1969