Arcanum 1, 1967

Miami Beach 2019
Louis Stern Fine Arts
Acrylic on canvas
102.0 x 152.0 (cm)
40.2 x 59.8 (inch)

The suite of seven paintings on view here from the 1960s highlight Helen Lundeberg's exploration of Hard Edge painting, from rolling landscapes to cavernous interiors. Lundeberg's blocks of color come to logical convergences while rounded lines resonate cutting depths. Internal chambers, such as Arcanum I (1967), echo lofty cathedrals with narrow arched views. Untitled (1964), on the other hand, supports a wide-angle sloping horizon in overlapping saturated colors. Mapped with a veritable poetic geometry, swaths of valley green and river blue divide the formal structure. In 1934, Lundeberg, along with partner and fellow artist Lorser Feitelson, founded the Subjective Classicism movement in southern California which later became known as Post-Surrealism. Breaking with European Surrealism, Lundeberg and Feitelson affirmed the conscious, rather than the unconscious, pairing the rationale of neoclassicism with a curiosity for the metaphysical. Feitelson and Lundeberg's new approach to painting guided the viewer through a composition's deep space with a theatrical intensity rousing strange encounters with everyday scenes.

Helen Lundeberg (born 1908 in Chicago) relocated as a child to Pasadena, California, where she later attended the Stickney Memorial School of Art. In the 1930s, she worked in the socialist realist style. From 1936–1942, she was one of only three women artists in Southern California making public artwork for the WPA, the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project, completing a number murals which are now considered lost. She died in 1999 in Los Angeles.