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Lebrun, Rico PDF Print E-mail

A native of Naples, Italy, he became a successful commercial and fine artist, known for his monochromatic color and expressionistic methods. His early art education was in Naples.

At age 22, he became a designer and supervisor in a stained glass factory and emigrated to Springfield, Illinois when a company branch opened there. Moving to New York, he did mural work and taught at the Art Students League. In 1938, he settled in California where he taught at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and worked in animation at Disney Studios. "Bambi" was one of his major animation movies.

Rico LeBrun was born on December 10, 1900 in Naples, Italy. He immigrated to the United States in his twenties. He taught himself English and writing became for him another form of drawing, a way to exercise the muscles of vision and perception. He came to Southern California in the late 1930s following a decade as a commercial artist in New York City. In the late 1940s LeBrun's career was in full bloom.

In 1952 and 1953 he went to Mexico where he experienced a change in his work, namely collage. In 1958 he worked with Josef Albers at Yale University as a visiting artist, an unhappy stint because of the really great contrast in their approaches. Following that, he visited Naples for the first time since the 1930s. He found the city, and his family, still in ruins from the war. The episode left him very depressed and it took him much time to navigate his way out of it.

LeBrun was diagnosed with cancer in 1961. His son, David and a student, Jim Renner have collaborated on a book trying to explain this complicated man. Because he dwelt on the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust, it was assumed that he was a dark brooding figure. Instead he is better described as intensely driven, passionate and affectionate. He died on May 10, 1962 in Malibu, California.

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