Oral Histories

Interview of Leonard Edmondson

Artist and educator at Pasadena City College, Otis College of Art and Design, and California State University, Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Art Community: Group Portrait, Leonard Edmondson
Los Angeles Art Community - Group Portrait
Biographical Note:
Artist and educator at Pasadena City College, Otis College of Art and Design, and California State University, Los Angeles.
Schipper, Merle Solway
Edmondson, Leonard
Persons Present:
Edmondson and Schipper.
Place Conducted:
Session one, two, and five: Edmondson's studio in Pasadena, California; Session three: Edmondson's apartment in Pasadena, California; Session four: Edmondson's print studio in Altadena, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Merle S. Schipper, Oral History Program, UCLA; B.A., Liberal Arts, University of Toronto; M.A., Art, UCLA; Ph.D., Art History, UCLA. Teacher, UCLA Extension.Schipper prepared for the interview by studying exhibition catalogs and reviews.
Processing of Interview:
Editing was done by the interviewer. She checked the verbatim transcript against the original tape recordings, editing for spelling, punctuation, and paragraphing, and verifying all proper nouns. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed. Edmondson reviewed and approved the edited transcript and, following a 1982 screening of the video session, supplied titles for all works photographed. Mildred Monteverde, professor of art history at the University of Southern Colorado, wrote the introduction at Edmondson's suggestion.Other front matter as well as the index were prepared by Oral History Program staff.
5.5 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series includes interviews with prominent Los Angeles-based visual artists and other members of the art establishment whose careers span the period from the 1920s through the 1970s. It documents the art community of the pre-World War II period and the rise of Los Angeles as a nationally recognized art center in the postwar period. Funding for this series was provided by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
TAPE NUMBER: I, Side One (January 22, 1976)Birth in Sacramento (1916)--Early years in the Oakland area--Early artistic interest and exposure--Move to Huntington Park--Los Angeles City College--"The path of least resistance" to the fine arts--Getting exposed to the art scene in Los Angeles in the thirties--A Kandinsky show and others--An eager immersion in the modern tradition- Favorite artists--Transfer to UC Berkeley--Further thoughts on an L. A. youth.
TAPE NUMBER: I, Side Two (January 29, 1976)Kandinsky, Miró, Klee, and Mondrian--Studies at Berkeley {teachers and fellow students)--Museum visits and classes--Self-confidence--Jobs and travels--The decision to go on with graduate school at Berkeley, with the intention of eventually teaching--"The ability to remain silent for a long time"--Drafted--Army life (1942-46)--Eventual European assignment in the army Counter-Intelligence Corps as a French interpreter-interrogator--The experience of art in France.
TAPE NUMBER: II, Side One (January 29, 1976)An artist-soldier in Paris--Decision to return to the US, to wife and teaching--Setting up house in Richmond and looking for a job--An earlier wartime visit to New York, and further thoughts on army life. [Second Part] (February 5, 1976)Teaching art at Ventura College--The art scene in Ventura and Santa Barbara--Self-consciously becoming an artist--Self-consciously becoming a teacher--Transfer to Pasadena City College--Making Calder-influenced sculpture--Making and showing art in the early fifties.
TAPE NUMBER: II, Side Two (February 5, 1976)Showing at Felix Landau's and other galleries--Disenchantment with and withdrawal from showing at galleries--Radio show and filmstrip--A show at the M. H. de Young Museum in San Francisco (1952)--Evolving visual style--Influence of Arshile Gorky, New York abstract expressionism, and the earlier moderns--Microorganic forms--Color, shape, and outline--A show at the Pasadena Art Museum (1953)--Shows and sales--Landau--Fifteen years at Pasadena City College.
TAPE NUMBER: III, Side One (February 12, 1976)Development of etching and printmaking--Studying with Ernest Freed---Etching versus painting--Innovation and traditional technique--Lithography and photography--Recent use of photo images in printmaking--Using Xerox--Philosophy of teaching and aesthetics--Grants and support--Writing a book on etching--Students.
TAPE NUMBER: III, Side Two (February 12, 1976)Students and disciples--Transitions in the paintings of the sixties--Figurative work in New York (1960)--Nonobjective work in L. A.--Return to figuration--Recent work: drawing without line--Cross-influence of painting and etching--Titling works--Feelings about current artistic movements--Influence of readings in aesthetics---Matisse--Influence of modern color theory--Nostalgia for the Banquet Years.
TAPE NUMBER: IV [Video session] (March 25, 1976)In the Pasadena studio--The paintings: a chronological survey--The fifties: interior landscapes--Compression and closure--Color and media---The sixties: increased interest in tactile surfaces and symmetry (combining geometric and natural forms)--Sculpture--Flower studies--Relation of etching and painted work--The seventies: a shift to exterior subjects--Use of photographs--Recent work: ready-made material in collage--In the Altadena etching studio--The history of the studio: the Pioneer Press Club--The prints: a chronological survey--A parallel development with the paintings--Photoplate etching and other photo uses--A return to drawing--Summation--A postscript on students.