Dijkstras Donate a Rico Lebrun

Rico Lebrun, Vertical Composition, 1945. Gift of Sandra and Bram Dijkstra. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

San Diego collectors Sandra and Bram Dijkstra have donated Rico Lebrun's Vertical Composition to the Huntington. It will be featured in "Art for the People: WPA-Era Paintings from the Dijkstra Collection," opening Dec. 2, 2023.

Lebrun (1900-1964) was once considered the quintessential L.A. artist, famous on both coasts. The Metropolitan Museum bought its first Lebrun painting in 1944. The Whitney has 5 works by Lebrun, and MoMA has 26. But by the time LACMA opened in 1965, Lebrun was dead and his reputation was fast fading. His angsty AbEx did not fit in with the emerging narrative of L.A. art as pop and plastic. LACMA did not acquire its first Lebrun painting until 2019.

Hiking in the Santa Ynez Valley in 1945, Lebrun came across farm equipment charred by wildfires. This became the basis of Vertical Composition. At the time, the postapocalyptic vibe resonated with the Holocaust and the Bomb. Today it connects equally to the powder keg of a changing climate.


I don't know Lebrun, but I saw this painting and immediately thought of Lee Bontecou
(American, 1931–2022).
I think I favor Lebrun because, when I see Bontecou's three-dimensional works, I think they're going to eat me alive.
I avoid her, although her success makes that hard.
Anonymous said…
> But by the time LACMA opened in 1965, Lebrun was dead
> and his reputation was fast fading.

Between the politics and personal tastes (and even more so since a wide variety of people are quite skilled, gifted, talented), the gatekeepers of who's in, who's out, what's fashionable, what's unfashionable, are constantly rotating.

As for LACMA not acquiring a Lebrun until just a few years ago - and with most museums having way more in storage than they can display - the issue of "size matters" (such as less square footage in a new building than originally listed) is relevant.
Luce said…
Bell's famous idea of "significant form" is Lebrun's meteir, his strong point. Equally valid is Picasso: " Learn the rules so well like a professional that you can break them like an artist. Really not taught in art schools any more.