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Ruins, 1937, Lithograph
Helen Lundeberg (American, 1908 – 1999)

American artist Helen Lundeberg was a painter whose 60-year career included periods of social realism, abstraction, and surrealism. Born in 1908, Lundeberg studied art at the Stickney Memorial School of Art in Pasadena, California, where she met artist and professor Lorser Feitelson. Lundeberg and Feitelson were married in 1933, and in 1934 they wrote a manifesto on Subjective Classicism, which later came to be known as Post-Surrealism. Post-Surrealism was a response to European Surrealism, which Feitelson and Lundeberg felt relied too heavily on imagery taken from dreams or the subconscious rather than on the deliberate use of objects from life. In the 1930s and 40s, Lundeberg worked for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in California, where she created easel paintings, lithographs and murals. In the 1950s the artist turned to abstraction and Hard Edge painting, and she continued to work in abstraction for the rest of her career.

This landscape from 1937 combines unexpected elements—a curvilinear tree with hand-like roots extends from a hilly landscape with stark rock formations—and is clearly evocative of surrealist imagery.