Leon Kroll


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Painter and printmaker. Primarily a figure painter, he also produced landscapes, cityscapes, and still lifes. Admired for his mildly romantic temperament, sensuous taste, and suave technique, he numbered among the most respected artists of the 1920s and 1930s. Born in New York, Abraham Leon Kroll studied at the Art Students League, where John Twachtman ranked as his most important teacher, and at the National Academy of Design before going to Paris in 1908 for two years of additional training. After his return, he exhibited in the Armory Show, and between 1925 and 1929 he again lived in France. After painting Depression-era murals for a federal art project, he received several other commissions to decorate public spaces. He summered for many years in the area of Gloucester, Massachusetts, where he died at his home. In the early years of his career, Kroll painted views of New York, celebrating its growth and vitality with vigorous brushwork. Later, the female figure, clothed or nude, became his usual subject as he built on classicism filtered through his knowledge of impressionism and the work of Poussin, Renoir, and Cézanne. Painted with verve and directness, In the Country (Detroit Institute of Arts, 1916) shows figures in a landscape setting. A later studio scene combining a female nude with two clothed women, Summer—New York (Smithsonian American Art Museum, 1931) reflects the more generalized form and languid mood of his mature career at its best. Visual intensity and unresolved, ambiguous meaning rescue this painting from the conceptual banality and circumspect artistry of his lesser efforts.

Subjects: Art.

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