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 Leo Lances  (1908 - 1981)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: abstraction, figure, genre

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
An artist for the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Leo Lances was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists Group in 1937.

His talent was recognized early. By the age of ten, he was awarded a scholarship to Pratt Institute and then attended the Art Students' League where he was influenced by Vaclav Vytlacil. He then spent several years studying painting with modernist Jan Matulka. In 1932, he studied briefly with Hans Hofmann and then ended his formal art training to pursue both painting and photography. In 1936, he exhibited with a group of abstractionists at Municipal Art Galleries in New York, and in 1937, he became one of the thirty founding members of the American Abstract Artists.

Into the 1930s, Lances became more involved with photography and he experimented with abstract photograms and surrealist photographs. He also began to photograph the work of his fellow artists. His photographs of David Smith's sculpture led to Smith's discovery by his first dealer, Marina Willard. Lance's photographic activity brought him to the attention of Lewis Jacobs, radical film maker, and they spent several years roaming New York City together for film subjects. In 1940, they made a silent film of Chaim Gross working in his studio.

During this time, Lances studied engineering drafting at night at Manhattan Technical Institute, which led to a job as exhibit designer for the U.S. Housing Administration. During the 1940s, he went to work for Dorr Oliver as an engineering draftsman and was employed there for 26 years. In the early 1950s, he moved to Connecticut. In the 1960s, he taught photography at the Famous Artists' School in Westport and operated Leo Lances Photography Studio in New Canaan.

In 1970, he resumed his painting and drawing, working at Silvermine Guild School as the guest of painting instructor Anthony DiMeglio.

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