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Margaret in 1984 in Santa Fe.
Photo: Joseph Singer

 

 

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Margaret Lefranc Art Foundation

 

Margaret Lefranc was a prodigiously talented artist whose career as a painter, illustrator and editor spanned more than 87 years. Born in Brooklyn, NY, on March 15, 1907, she produced her first works of art at the age of six. Notable as a pioneering woman artist of the 20th century, Lefranc's life and productions provide a clarifying window on modernist art and its evolution during her lifetime. She worked in a variety of media (including oil, watercolor, gouache, pastel, etching and monotype), and the portraits and landscapes that she created in a range of styles reflect cubist and other avant-garde influences. In Europe and New York, she found a place in the artistic vanguard during the 1920s and 1930s. This was well before 1939, when she vacationed in Taos, staying with D.H. Lawrence's wife, Frieda; and before 1945, when she settled in Nambe, near Santa Fe, and her subsequent time maintaining family homes in Hunter, NY, and Miami, Fl.

Lefranc lived in Berlin with her parents from 1920 to 1922 and then in Paris during the decade between 1923 and 1933, where she studied art with Andre L’Hote (among others) at the Ecole du Louvre, as well as at the Sorbonne. She returned to the U.S. in 1933; in 1935, she founded the Guild Art Gallery in New York City, promoting a number of important artists (for example, Arshile Gorky, whose first New York exhibition was held there). The records for the Guild Art Gallery are housed in the Archives of American Art, Washington, D.C. and the Margaret Lefranc Art Foundation. The gallery closed in 1937.

A noted illustrator and editor, in 1948 she received a “Fifty Best Books of the Year” award from the Library of Congress in conjunction with the American Institute of Graphic Arts for her illustrations of San Ildefonso native pottery in Maria: The Potter of San Ildefonso by Alice Marriott. In 1952, her illustrations for Indians of the Four Corners were similarly honored with a “One Hundred Best Books of the Year” award, also from the Library of Congress.

Lefranc’s exhibition record is extensive; her work was shown in the Salon d’Automne (Paris; 1927-1930), the Salon des Tuileries (Paris; 1928-1930), the New York World’s Fair Fine Arts Exhibition (1939-1940), the Corcoran Gallery (Washington, DC; 1940), the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (Philadelphia; 1942), the Oklahoma Art Center (Oklahoma City; 1950), Philbrook Art Center (Tulsa, Ok; 1949 and 1951), the Museum of New Mexico (Santa Fe; 1948, 1951 and 1953), Lowe Gallery (Miami, Fl; 1965 and 1966), Cline Fine Art (Santa Fe; 1997), as well as in a retrospective at St. John’s College (Santa Fe, 1993 and 1997) and at the Governor’s Gallery in concert with receiving a 1996 New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence and Achievement in the Arts in the painting category.

Lefranc’s work is reproduced in the catalogue of the national traveling exhibition “Independent Spirits: Women Painters of the American West, 1890-1945,” organized in 1995 by the Autry Museum of Western Heritage; Women Artists of the American West (McFarland, 2003) and A Lifetime of Imaging: The Art of Margaret Lefranc by Lois Katz, former curator of the Brooklyn Museum and Arthur Sackler Collections (Nouveau Ventures Unlimited, Inc., in association with the Margaret Lefranc Art Foundation, 2007). Lefranc’s work is in numerous private and public collections. She died in Santa Fe on September 5, 1998, leaving behind numerous admirers of her work, from personal friends and artists with whom she associated to those who never knew her but have been impressed by the strength of her personality and her works. Stuart Ashman, cabinet secretary for cultural affairs in New Mexico, one such admirer and supporter of Lefranc's legacy, has stated that “Margaret and her contemporaries represented an important era for New Mexico.”

To learn more about Margaret press HERE

For additional information go to:

Women Artists Archives National Directory WAAND
(enter Lefranc in gray box, click go)

Women Artists of the American West WAAW

Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution AAA

     
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