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Global Antiques and Fine Art

Leonard Kaplan (American 1922-2008) Surrealistic Nude Figures - original mixed media painting -Stunning! -Highly collectible Artist!

Regular price $1,400.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $1,400.00 USD
Sale Sold out
Stunning large original mixed media Surrealistic Nude Figures Painting by acclaimed American artist Leonard Kaplan ( New York 20th C.). Surreal style painting highlights 4 haunting nude silhouettes women (perhaps same woman at different stages of her life?) painting also displays Raven at bottom with feather. Painting shows skilled technique by much thought-after artist. Mixed Media-Very collectible work by well listed painter with high gallery prices also exhibited at Laguna Art Museum. Comes in period frame. Signature: Signed lower left Medium: Mixed Media Size: c. 27 3/4 X 21 3/4 inches (site) unframed, c 30 X 36 inches with frame Free domestic shipping! Returns & exchanges: Returns accepted within 30 days of the purchase of the item. However, the buyer is responsible for shipping the item back to us and that cost will not be refunded. We will refund your money for the item as soon as we receive the item back. Please send the item back to us with tracking. About artist (from Laguna Art Museum) LAGUNA BEACH, California -- Well known artist and antique dealer Leonard Kaplan, one of the last artists to have worked in Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Project Administration (WPA), died on Tuesday, April 15, following complications from a fall he took in his Laguna Beach home several months ago. He was 86 at the time of his death. A native New Yorker, Kaplan was best known in recent years for his obsessively wrought, fantasy-based mixed media collages crafted from 18th and 19th century prints that remained unsold in his legendary Laguna Beach antiques shop, Ancient Arts. Born on January 15, 1922 in Brooklyn, New York, Kaplan was the son of New York natives Elizabeth "Bessie" Cohen and Sammy Kaplan, a Jewish prizefighter who fought against the best boxers of the time, including Benny Leonard, world lightweight boxing champion from 1917 to 1925. As a child, Kaplan moved with his family to Astoria, Long Island. After losing their house in Astoria during the Depression, the family moved to an apartment in Brooklyn, where, in his teens, the artist would begin to draw the mansions abandoned in North Beach when the Depression struck full force. In 1936, Kaplan entered Long Island City's Bryant High School, where he graduated with the class of 1940. However, during high school, the artist was more interested in the drawing classes he took from William Dean Fausett at Henry Street Settlement on Manhattan's Lower East side, where Fausett, known for his murals decorating Grant's Tomb, was teaching art. By 1939, Kaplan's figurative work had so matured that he received a Grand Prize in Life Drawing in a high school competition sponsored by New York University's Architecture and Allied Arts Department. Fausett also helped Kaplan get a scholarship to New York's iconic Art Students League, where he studied under American School artist Reginald Marsh. Even before graduating from high school in 1940, the artist moved to Greenwich Village, then later to a studio on 23rd Street in lower Manhattan. While attending Art Students League, he supported himself by selling small conté drawings and watercolors to Antoinette Kraushaar of Kraushaar Galleries on Fifth Avenue, one of the few women art dealers of the time. By 18, he was also employed by FDR's WPA as an assistant to Dean Fausett, who was then painting murals at Henry Street Settlement. Kaplan met his first wife, Nancy Wing, sister of noted Laguna Beach artist Andy Wing, at the settlement house's communal farm in the Catskills Mountains of upstate New York, where he helped to paint murals with WPA underwriting. The artist was also hired by the WPA as a set designer for Clifford Odets' famously avant-garde stage play, Waiting for Lefty. During World War II, Leonard Kaplan enlisted in the U.S. Navy Sea Bees, though his military career was cut short when he, along with other recruits, contracted catarrh fever at swampy Camp Peary near Williamsburg, Virginia. Returning to New York, Kaplan went to work as a welder and ship fitter in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. By this time, Kaplan and his soon-to-be bride moved to a house under the Brooklyn Bridge next to the studio of William Zorach, a noted Lithuanian sculptor who taught at Art Students League and had created a number of pieces for the 1939 World's Fair in Flushing. Kaplan married Wing in the apartment of a friend, Freddy Fox from Vogue, whose husband was a senator; among the wedding guests were Marlon Brando and his then girl friend, Blossom Plum, who lived with the Kaplans in Brooklyn and were enrolled in the Dramatic Workshop of the New School for Social Research at the time. The sole source of income for the four of them, Kaplan eventually evicted Brando and Plum and moved with his wife to Brooklyn Heights. After a string of odd jobs, including making paper maché props for window displays, photo shoots and fashion shows for a New York photography studio known as Man of Distinction, the Kaplans moved to Laguna Beach, California in late 1945. While employed as a prop designer, the artist had seriously injured his back when a real horse Kaplan was attempting to herd into a freight elevator fell against him. It was an injury that would plague the artist for the rest of his life. Before leaving for California, Kaplan had been hired sight unseen over the phone by Laguna Beach production potter Dick Knox, who specialized in making kitschy, decorative, now highly collectible glazed animals popular in the 1940s. The blatant anti-Semitism of co-workers forced Kaplan into working for himself. He produced decorated paper maché-covered metal trays with 18th and 19th century European decorative motifs that he sold to Bullock's, along with figurines he crafted in the shape of fruit-bearing women, and in a booth at the Laguna Festival of the Arts. The artist and his wife would forage in the alleys of Beverly Hills -- where Mrs. Kaplan's uncle, Oscar-nominated Hollywood screen writer Richard Connell lived -- for discarded Bandini fertilizer bags with which to cover plates rescued from Goodwill. In the 1940s, Kaplan also constructed backdrops for the Laguna Beach Pageant of the Masters, which continues to be staged to this day. It was during this period that Kaplan began collecting pieces of ancient art, which would eventually develop into his business of buying and selling antiquities and antiques; in 1953, his first and only son, Adam, was born. In the early to mid-50s, the artist also started to experiment with polyester resin, an innovative new material that had just come on the market. Kaplan's resin art was discovered by Welton Beckett, an important Southern California architect responsible for designing, among other landmarks, Hollywood's Capitol Records Building, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and Los Angeles' One Center Plaza. Beckett invited Kaplan, together with other artists like fabled interior and movie set designer Tony Duquette, to create art for the new Beverly Hilton Hotel that Beckett has designed, now considered a mid-century architectural classic. Kaplan created a massive whale bone sculpture for the hotel's Nordic Room with bones collected from whale carcasses he found washed up on the beach in La Paz, Baja California. In the 1950s, with the help of Alan Gerard, Kaplan executed commissions for six 7 x 22-foot resin murals for Stix Baer & Fuller Department Store in St. Louis, a 30-foot plastic-and-metal mural for Gimble's in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a large painting for Hallmark's corporate headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. He was also sculpting in bone and stone, as well as producing drawings and paintings, and was awarded a Los Angeles County Museum of Art purchase prize for one of his sculptures. In the early 1960s, Leonard Kaplan opened his now famous Ancient Arts shop, which he irreverently referred to as "an Aztec five and dime," near the intersection of Glenneyre and Thalia in Laguna. There, he sold everything from pre-Columbian artifacts and Spanish colonial furniture to Ming Dynasty porcelains from a bed he was forced to use after a series of unsuccessful back surgeries that left him wearing a back brace for the rest of his life. His clients included a number of Hollywood luminaries, including Vincent Price, Edward G. Robinson, Rock Hudson, Jack Lemmon and later Peter O'Toole. His shop and the home/studio he built in back of it became a frequent meeting place for important artists and writers of the time, including Wallace Berman and Timothy Leary. In the early 1980's, after he claimed to have retired from shopkeeping, Kaplan began to produce his mixed media collages, while still buying and selling antiques from his living room. Kaplan continued to be a pivotal fixture in the Laguna arts community for over 60 years. A retrospective of his work entitled "Waking Dreams" was mounted at the Laguna Beach Museum of Art in 2003. Kaplan's oral biography is archived in the Smithsonian Institute's Archive of American Artists. The artist is survived by his sister, Helen, his son, Adam, and his grandson, Zachariah. For more details about the life and art of Leonard Kaplan, go to for an audio-visual presentation delivered by art critic Kathleen Vanesian at Laguna Beach Museum of Art in April, 2003.