Doris Lee


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Painter and printmaker. Among her droll contributions to American Scene painting, the well-known Thanksgiving (Art Institute of Chicago, 1935), a bustling dinner preparation scene filled with homely details, presents an amusing but affectionate look at the labor behind a uniquely American ritual. If the content is calculatedly naive, the painting also demonstrates Lee's sophisticated control of color, drawing, and composition. Doris Emrick was born in Aledo, Illinois. Upon graduation in 1927 from Rockford (Illinois) College, she married Russell Lee. During the next four years, she studied at the Kansas City Art Institute with Ernest Lawson, in Paris with André Lhote, and at the California School of Fine Arts (now San Francisco Art Institute), where Arnold Blanch redirected her interest from abstraction to nature. After moving in 1931 to Woodstock, where she remained active in the art community for many years, in 1939 she married Blanch. Like her first, this marriage also ended in divorce. Although Lee became known for scenes of homespun Americana, she also depicted urban life in such paintings as April Storm, Washington Square, New York City (Rhode Island School of Design, c. 1932). In this sweeping view, leafless trees bend to the wind as dozens of people respond in varying ways to the changing weather. Lee's eye for detail and for humorous characterization led to a number of magazine commissions for illustrations, in some cases based on travel experiences. She also painted murals for federal art projects in the 1930s and, with Blanch, wrote It's Fun To Paint (1947). Lee died in Clearwater, Florida.

Subjects: Art.

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