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 Edmund D. Lewandowski  (1914 - 1998)

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Lived/Active: Wisconsin/Florida/South Carolina      Known for: precisionist industrial and city scenes, murals

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Ad Code: 3
Edmund D Lewandowski
from Auction House Records.
Petrol Terminal #2
Copyright, estate of Edmund Lewandowski, all rights reserved
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Edmund Lewandowski (1914-1998)

Known for his abstract and precisionist paintings and mosaic murals, Edmund Lewandowski was born in Milwaukee in 1914 and attended the Layton School of Art from 1931 to 1934.  Following graduation, he assumed a teaching position in public school as a means of support though he pursued painting on his own and commercial commissions in advertising and with magazines. 

In 1936, Edith Halpert, an important New York art dealer of modern art, invited him to join her gallery, the noted Downtown Gallery.  That year, he also began painting murals for the Federal Art Project, and during 1939 and 1940, he executed post office murals in Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin.  From 1942 to 1946, Lewandowski made maps and concealments while serving in the United States Air Force.  In 1947, he went back to the Layton School of Art where he was appointed to the faculty, but he also continued to do commercial work.  In 1949, he moved to Florida State University, in Tallahassee, where he remained until 1954.  Following his tenure in Florida, he returned to the Layton School of Art, where he served as Director until 1972.  His final position was as chairman of the art department at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he served from 1973 to 1984 before he retired and was named professor emeritus.  He died in Rock Hill in 1998.
Information provided by Valerie Ann Leeds

Biography from The Johnson Collection:
Regarded as a leading American precisionist and exemplary arts educator, Edmund Lewandowski once explained that his "overwhelming desire . . . through the years has been to record the beauty of man-made objects and energy of American industry," a goal he successfully achieved in a career that spanned five decades and numerous locations, including the American Midwest, South, and New England. Born to Polish parents in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lewandowski attended the Layton School of Art, studying under regionalist artist Garret Sinclair. Inspired by Sinclair's modern style and urban subjects, Lewandowski's early paintings reflect a similar approach that would later evolve to industrial themes executed in a hard-edged precisionist manner.

Following graduation, Lewandowski worked as a public school teacher and commercial artist while pursuing his painting. His career took a significant step forward when, in 1936, his work caught the eye of the progressive art dealer Edith Halpert, who offered him representation at her celebrated Downtown Gallery in New York City. A key figure in modern art, Halpert encouraged Lewandowski to experiment with Precisionism and to remain in Milwaukee, thereby avoiding the "distractions that Manhattan offered." In 1937, Lewandowski met Charles Sheeler—also represented by Halpert and considered a leader in the American Precisionist movement—whose style would most significantly influence the younger artist's career. Through his association with the Downtown Gallery and the work he executed for the Federal Art Project between 1936 and 1939, Lewandowski attracted important critical notice and was included in exhibitions at such notable institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, and Art Institute of Chicago during the 1940s alone.

Following military service as an Air Force mapmaker and camouflage artist from 1942-1946, Lewandowski joined the faculty of his alma mater, the Layton School of Art, in 1947. From that time on, he divided his time between creating art and teaching another generation of aspiring artists. His teaching career took him to institutions throughout the United States, including Florida State University (1949-1954). It was during this period that Lewandowski started to experiment with mosaic murals, having been introduced to the medium while on a trip to Italy in 1953. Following his tenure at Florida State, Lewandowski returned to Layton as its director, remaining until 1972. Throughout these years, the artist would create and exhibit works on paper and canvas, as well as execute commissioned large-scale mosaic murals. In 1973, Lewandowski joined the faculty at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he would serve as the art department chair until his retirement in 1984.

Edmund Lewandowski's art showcases an exacting technical skill honed in his early training and advanced by his relationship with Sheeler. His ultrarealistic works painted in watercolor, gouache, or oil range from early farmscapes to industrial scenes and marine subjects, a variety that reflects the artist's constant quest for aesthetic evolution. Today, Lewandowski's work can be seen at prestigious national museums, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, and Milwaukee Art Museum.

The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, South Carolina

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