She Just Wants the News

The present lot shown in its initial state without the newspaper details, illustrated in American Painting: From the Colonial Period to the Present, 1977

In 1978, one year after Leslie’s painting 7 am News was first published in American Painting: From the Colonial Period to the Present, Leslie added a small landscape and cartoon series to the inside pages of his subject’s newspaper. The finished painting was later published in the October 1980 issue of LIFE Magazine,  accompanying an article about new American realism. Two years later, in 1982, the first version of 7 am News appeared once again, this time in The Wilson Quarterly to accompany an article about video versus print news with this poignant caption, “If this pensive young woman in Alfred Leslie’s Seven A.M. News is an average American consumer of news, she does not favor ‘news as entertainment,’ or TV news over print, or newspapers that strain to cater only to her whims. Surveys indicate that she just wants the news”.

The present lot illustrated in LIFE Magazine, October 1980

Alfred Leslie

Alfred Leslie was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1927. After serving in the U. S. Coast Guard, he studied at New York University under the G. I. Bill, and later at Pratt and the Art Students League. During the 1950s, Leslie was part of the historic Ninth Street Show, curated by Leo Castelli, had five solo shows at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery, and was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s 16 Americans exhibition, all the while receiving great praise for his more geometric variety of Abstract Expressionism. Leslie was immersed in the social, political and cultural changes of the day, balancing roles as a painter, a writer and a filmmaker. The works of today’s literary giants – then relatively unknown – Jean-Paul Sartre, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and others were featured in Leslie’s 1960 single-issue review The Hasty Papers, an edgy, anarchic commentary. Leslie’s studio was the arena for a nearly continuous series of art happenings, performances, musical improvisations and parties. His movie Pull My Daisy, co-directed with Robert Frank in 1959, is a landmark of the American underground film movement. It was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1996. Leslie’s work is in numerous museum collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Walker Art Center, Museum of Modern Art, and The Art Institute of Chicago.

A life of tangents is an appropriate description for Alfred Leslie, not only because his form of Abstract Expressionism was more geometric than his peers, but also because he was constantly reinventing his artistic practice. The artist has always relied on intuition. His canvases and collages of the 1950s, emphasized color, depth, and texture. They included Leslie in what was regarded as the second generation of Abstract Expressionists, namely Joan Brown, Al Held, Norman Bluhm, Michael Goldberg, Grace Hartigan, and Joan Mitchell. Leslie’s canvases embodied Harold Rosenberg’s exhortation to artists to paint with a loaded brush and energetic execution. Layers upon layers of color are accented with hard right angles that mark the path of Leslie’s aggressive brushstroke. His collages demonstrate a similar intensity. Sharp bands of colors are applied and then bisected with ragged pieces of paper and board, fastened to the collage with tape, staples, nails, rivets and a variety of paint-types. Leslie emphatically dug into these layers, revealing many surfaces and imbue the works with texture and depth. He broke away from Abstract Expressionism in the early 1960s, shifting his focus to monochrome realistic portraits, color portraits and independent films.

Auction Results Alfred Leslie