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LEAH DURNER PAINTINGS is a series of one-person exhibitions and publications by painter Leah Durner. Each exhibition is accompanied by a text authored by a scholar or critic that situates Durner's work historically and philosophically.



The Artist Project LEAH DURNER PAINTINGS comprises a series of one-person exhibitions by Leah Durner, along with print and digital publications, public conversations, and lectures related to her work.  Each exhibition is accompanied by a brochure or catalogue with a new text by a scholar or art critic that contextualizes Durner's work historically and philosophically. 

 In 2019 I am  working on a new group of poured enamels for EXTRAVAGANT PAINTING. The funding goal for living expenses, studio rental, and materials to create the new poured enamels is US$71,000.

In addition, I am raising $5,900 to cover production costs for Painting, Largesse, and Life: A Conversation with Leah Durner ,Leah Durner and Jorella Andrews, the companion publication to The Question of Painting: Rethinking Thought with Merleau-Ponty by Jorella Andrews (Bloomsbury, 2018).


PLANNED EXHIBITION  DATE TK. LEAH DURNER: EXTRAVAGANT PAINTING will be comprised of my large-scale poured enamels and will address extravagence, largesse, ecstasy, psychedelia, and beauty and the devaluation of beauty within modernist and postmodernist discourse. The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with text by a scholar to be determined and a new text and lecture by me on Extravagance - my project comprising my theoretical interests--beauty, joy, color, and largesse. The exhibition proposal is currently circulating.

PUBLICATION 2018-2019. The Question of Painting: Rethinking Thought with Merrleau-Ponty by Jorella Andrews Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths College University of London, was published November 2018 by Bloomsbury Press London.  My painting, Rousseau (2006) is the book's cover image and my work is illustrated and discussed in relation to phenomenology and historic and contemporary artists inside the book.

Painting, Largesse, and LIfe: A Conversation with Leah Durner is an extended conversation between Leah Durner and Jorella Andrews, being made available as an Ebook companion to The Question of Painting: Rethinking Thought with Merleau-Ponty by Jorella Andrews, linked through to the Bloomsbury website. The conversation draws on my oeuvre and influences as an exemplar of the problematics and possibilities of painting in the post-conceptual period. Of particular importance is the current focus of my work on the aesthetics and ethics of largesse and extravagance. In February 2017 Leah Durner and Jorella Andrews co-chaired the panel IMMEASURABLE EXTRAVAGANCE: PROPOSALS FOR AN ECONOMY OF ABUNDANCE IN AN AGE OF SCARCITY at the College Art Association 150th Annual Conference in New York. Durner presented the paper "Extravagant Painting: Outpouring and Overflowing."

In November 2016 Durner was at the American Academy in Rome as part of its Visiting Artists Visiting Scholars (VAVS) program.

In the summer of 2015 Leah Durner and Jorella Andrews met in France to further their conversation for he Question of Painting: Re-thinking Thought with Merrleau-Ponty.

JUNE 2012.  LEAH DURNER: PAINTINGS, 2002–2006, Loretta Howard Gallery, New York, July 12 – August 3., 2012. An exhibition of abstract paintings–on canvas and paper–which were created between 2002 and 2006. For this exhibition, Durner transformed the gallery space into a reading room furnished with midcentury modern furniture and with books on art and design available for perusal. The installation embraced Loretta Howard Gallery’s program of late modernist painting, the intimate scale and location of the space itself and the open sensibility of summer.

MAY 2011. LEAH DURNER: NAKED COLOR NEW WORKS ON PAPER, 571 Projects, New York, 5-28 May 2011. This exhibition of works on colored papers examined the materiality of color as both substrate and applied surface. Art critic and poet John Yau, wrote the exhibition brochure essay entitled “Color Sensation.”  A conversation between Leah Durner and art critic and publisher, David Cohen, on painting, beauty, fashion, body and soul was held at 571 Projects during the exhibition.  

SEPTEMBER 2006. LEAH DURNER PAINTINGS, Durner’s New York debut solo exhibition, held at Wooster Arts Space 5-30 September 2006 was the first exhibition in the Artist Project.The exhibition was curated by David Cohen, art critic and publisher of the online journal, who also wrote the exhibition brochure text. 



My painting occupies the critical space between modernism and postmodernism—between postwar abstraction and post-Duchampian conceptualism and post-Warholian pop. My painting practice includes works in oil, acrylic, and gouache on canvas and on paper, as well as works in poured enamel. My work in poured enamel references psychedelia and process art with deeper roots in the exuberance of the Baroque and Rococo as well as in the modernist tradition of abstraction.

My current theoretical interests include extravagance, largesse, beauty, joy, and incarnated consciousness. Always scanning for surprising/beautiful/ugly/jolting/sickly/pretty combinations of color and surface, I take notes and photographs to build my personal color archive. Color palettes for the poured enamels are sourced from fashion, design, construction sites, psychedelia, street signs, and other stimuli occurring in my urban/mediated environment.


The color selection for each painting is strongly determined—in the studio I spend a great deal of time mixing color—my first concern and where the main decisions are made. Indeterminacy and accident enter when pouring the enamels— an active and physical process during which I must remain totally focused and uninterrupted as the colors flow to become the final painting.

The slick, high-gloss surfaces of the poured enamels evidence my interest in meaning as conveyed by surface—the hard surface that deflects entry and the waves of color that invite investigation.

While engaged primarily with painting, my practice also includes drawing and design.

My drawing practice serves as a discipline, a meditation, and a means of finding source material. My drawing practice is founded upon my studies with Robert Beverly Hale in artistic anatomy and figure drawing and my continuing practice of drawing after sculpture. My pedagogical lineage extends back to Jean-Louis David through Hale who studied drawing with George Bridgman, who studied with Jéan-Leon Gérôme, who studied with Gustave Boulanger, who studied with Paul (Hippolyte) Delaroche, who studied with Baron Antoine-Jean Gros, who studied with Jean-Louis David.

I have a strong interest in design, the history of the relationship between the fine arts and design, and in democratizing the art experience. Early In 2012 was invited to create a line or products for US retailer West Elm which launched in Spring 2013. My second line of products for West Elm launched in January 2015.

I have also curated exhibitions, published art theory, and lectured on a number of topics, including Real Property: A Contemporary Landscape Show and Ruination on the American landscape; gestural abstraction and phenomenology; Aspects of Conceptualism in American Work: Part I: Historical Precedents and Part II: Modern and Contemporary Conceptualism on conceptualism and its sources; Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and art, money, and gender; the work of the artist Dan Graham; and the work of composers Maryanne Amacher and John Cage.

Critics and scholars who have written on my work include: David Cohen (critic and artcritical publisher); John Yau (poet and critic); Jorella Andrews (Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London); and Michael Sanders (philosopher).

At Rutgers University I studied art theory with Martha Rosler, performance with Geoff Hendricks and Bob Watts, and painting with Joan Semmel and Leon Golub.

An intensive conversation between Jorella Andrews and me on my oeuvre and its relation to practices and histories of painting, will appear as a special web-based feature accompanying Dr. Andrews’s upcoming book on Merleau-Ponty and painting. My work will be discussed in the book along with that of other historic and contemporary artists and one of my paintings will appear on the book’s cover.

My painting practice is fed by my wide ranging reading and exploration of all the arts and my engagement with the world.

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