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American Surrealist

by Jaimie Lilienstein

Known primarily for his Surrealist paintings, Leon Kelly was also an accomplished sculptor and defined muralist. He trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. Kelly’s work is at once brilliant and inquisitive.

Table Of Contents


Born in 1901, American Surrealist Leon Kelly began his education at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Upon graduation in 1924, Kelly was awarded a traveling scholarship from where he studied at the Grand Chaumiere in Paris, France. Teachers throughout his education included Arthur B. Carles, Jean Auguste Adolphe, Earl Horter and Alexandre Portinoff.


Though thought of for his Surrealist paintings, Kelly displayed a range in mediums among his prolific career. Kelly’s’ earlier work displays a more painterly quality, while later works express Meticulous Surrealism as well as retaining a Cubist influence. Among his exceptional works in oil, Kelly was an accomplished sculptor, defined muralist as well as watercolorist. Kelly’s work holds a brilliance and inquisitive quality and therefore is apart of significant private collections and museums around the world.

III. EXHIBITIONS (selected list)

  • 1933-34, 1939-1946 Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art Annuals
  • Corcoran Gallery Biennials, Washington, D.C.
  • Art Institute of Chicago, IL
  • 1965 Retrospective exhibition at the International Gallery, Baltimore, MD
  • 1968 Long Beach, NJ
  • 1968, 1970 Richard Feigen Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
  • 1969 Newark Museum, New Jersey
  • Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
  • IV. COLLECTIONS (Selected list)

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
  • Museum of Modern Art, NY
  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
  • Sara Roby Foundation Collection at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
  • Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
  • Tel Aviv Museum, Israel
  • Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT
  • Whitney Museum of American Art, NY
  • Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT

    1. 1. Http:// 2005.
    2. 2. Http:// 2005.
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    4. 4. Mallett, Daniel Trowbridge. Mallett's Index of Artists. Peter Smith: New York. 1948.

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