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It Came from the Vault: Rarely Seen Works from MAG’s Collection

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Table with Roman Colors

40 x 50 in. (101.6 x 127 cm)

James Lechay
American (1907 - 2001)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Gift of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Childe Hassam Fund
Accession Number: 1975.2
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Location: Not currently on view

James Lechay played a notable role in the tradition of avant-garde painting in New York City, where his circle of friends included Milton Avery, Mark Rothko, and Arshile Gorky, and later in the Midwest, where he taught at the University of Iowa for nearly three decades. “A serious painter is what I like,” he said in an interview in 1995 at the age of 89. “Whether I like his work or not has nothing to do with it, but I like the fact that he’s serious and struggling and trying to find something. A carefully done, precise, boring rendition copy, that shows no search, I’m not interested in that, and I don’t think that goes anywhere. But the person who has all the wonderful mistakes of a human being, his work is wonderful because it has wonderful errors in it, it’s full of life. I mean that a cadaver is perfect, it doesn’t make any mistakes, but it’s also dead.”

[Label text from It Came From the Vault exhibition, 2013]

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It Came from the Vault exhibition catalogue Entry for this artwork in the It Came from the Vault exhibition catalogue. The exhibition ran from March 17-June 9, 2013


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