Thursday, February 14th, 2019

Brody-Lederman’s Parisian Dream [The Independent, 22 January 2019]

New York artist Stephanie Brody-Lederman’s works have found an international audience. Locally, she’s shown works with Elaine Benson, Arlene Bujese, and Sara Nightingale, has won Best In Show twice at the Guild Hall Members Show, and had two solo shows at Guild Hall.

Christina Strassfield curated one of Brody-Lederman’s solo shows at Guild Hall, which featured “Outdoor Girl.” From there, it was shown at the Museum of Design in Atlanta. Now, Brody-Lederman’s painting is permanently installed in the famed Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris.

Artwork by Stephanie Brody-Lederman.

How does it feel to have a permanent installation at Shakespeare and Company in Paris?

It is a dream come true! As many of us know, Shakespeare and Company was the headquarters of the “Lost Generation” in Paris. Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, André Gide, and F. Scott Fitzgerald graced its doors in the 1920s and ’30s. “Ulysses” by James Joyce was published by Sylvia Beach, the proprietor, in 1922. So, understandably, the literary vibes are overwhelming me. In 2001, I saw a bulletin board outside Shakespeare and Company in Paris. I photographed it and a few years later used some of this text as part of “Outdoor Girl.”

How did that come about?

I sent them a picture of my painting, not knowing anyone there. I received a reply: “We love this painting. Is it for sale? If so, how much is it?” That’s really the way it happened.

Are you a fan of William Shakespeare?

I am a fan of the astute psychological characters created by Shakespeare. I often think of them as I go about my life. I also try to bide my time when action is impossible, as did Desdemona. And I must admit that the Calypsos appear quite fun-loving, although very politically incorrect in our current environment. And in my art career, I often feel similar to Odysseus on his quixotic journey.

What connections do you have to the Long Island area?

My connections to Long Island are many. My husband and I brought up our two daughters, first in Manhattan and later in Great Neck. It was then, when they were little, that I got my master’s degree in painting from CW Post/Long Island University.

Your father seems to be a big influence on your life. In what ways?

I grew up in the Bronx. We moved many times because we could get rent concessions. It was post WWII. My father was in the real estate business, loved art, and took classes at the New School. He opened an art gallery in what is now Tribeca and invited all his New School professors to show there. He hung out with the artists of the ’50s.

My father took me on excursions all over NYC to “look at property.” When I was very much a young tad, we went to Harlem, Chinatown, Little Italy, the Battery. We went to museums between meals. I feel that probably the most important part of my art education was learning to look, really look at everything in my personal viewfinder.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the humorous, often contradictory, aspects of everyday life, by visual stimuli and literary references. I am greatly influenced by the movies of François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer, Federico Fellini, and Bernardo Bertolucci.

I want the viewer to complete the work with his/her own history. There is no one “answer” as to what my work is about. My images often change, from birds to cherries to dogs to trees to flowers to tablecloths, etc. I use ordinary images which I imbed with psychological meaning within. I have always used words and image in my work.

In college, I kept changing my major from art to creative writing. I have taken poetry workshops at the 92nd Street Y with Christopher Lehmann-Haupt. I write stand-alone poetry that has been published in The Paris Review and other literary journals.

What’s your creative process like?

I spend a long time sitting on my couch in my studio, looking at a canvas in process and thinking. When I am drained, I go to IKEA in Brooklyn or Asia Society in NY for the visuals.

What artists do you admire?

I most admire writers and filmmakers: Mary Oliver, Mary Karr, Alice Munroe, Truffaut, Fellini. The painters Kiki Smith and Pierre Bonnard. If I could have a conversation with any of them, I would ask Bonnard how he makes his dachshunds so adorable.

What is your philosophy on life?

Life is a crapshoot and you have to be lucky. When things get tough I cook, make bad art, and read biographies of people I consider cool. I also drink a lot of wine, and tell myself that life turns on a dime, and good things always happen to me eventually. I know that I must just put one foot in front of the other and go forward.

What do you consider your biggest success?

I have had many wonderful things happen to me regarding my art. I have won grants, had my work on the covers of The Paris Review and L’Oeil Magazines, had B.H. Friedman, John Perrault, John Gruen, Edward Albee, and Edward Gomez write about my work, and had a marvelous studio visit with Henry Geldzahler. I’ve had reviews in the International Herald Tribune by Michael Gibson.

I also have many erudite collectors who are loyal, intelligent, and well respected — not to mention this Shakespeare and Company purchase or this Indy interview. But I feel that Albee buying two works of mine for himself, coming to my Williamsburg studio and later personally taking me on a tour of his home in Montauk, and then becoming an ongoing friend and art fan, that is the most important event of my art career.

View Brody-Lederman’s work at Sara Nightingale Gallery in Sag Harbor or visit

Friday, August 31st, 2012

5-Page Essay on Stephanie Brody-Lederman in September 2012 Art & Antiques Magazine

Art & Antiques Magazine has published a 5-page illustrated profile about me and my artwork in their September 2012 issue. It is written by the critic and curator Edward M. Gomez.

Link to article

Download PDF of Article

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Edward M Gomez essay in The Brooklyn Rail forthcoming

With this note, I’m delighted to inform you that the New York-based critic, arts journalist and author Edward M. Gómez (a past/present contributor to Art in America, Art & Antiques, Art + Auction, the New York Times, Raw Vision (U.K.), Reforma (Mexico), among many other publications), has written an in-depth critical essay about my career history and my body of work to date. Edward’s essay will be published in a forthcoming book of art-themed essays that he is now writing. He recently completed a writer’s residency at Yaddo, where he worked on this new project.

A shorter version of Edward’s essay will first be published in the Dec 2010/Jan 2011 issue of the Brooklyn Rail. In addition, Edward’s essay will be published in its entirety in the form of a limited edition chapbook. This marks the culmination of a stimulating, critical dialog about my work and ideas that Edward and I have enjoyed in recent years.

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Art In America , Sept 2008, Review

Islip, NY

Stephanie Brody-Lederman

Islip Art Museum

Stephanie Brody-Lederman’s art is a kind of visual poetry of souvenir and suggestion, hinting at its subject matter  in evocative words and phrases, and in plainly drawn, iconic motifs–chairs, lanterns, boats, bugs–sprinkled over color saturated grounds.  A veteran of the New York art scene, Brody-Lederman has never jumped on a market-driven bandwagon, nor do her paintings, mixed medium artist’s books and assemblages fall easily into stylistic categories.

This small show brought together several dozen recent works.  Brody-Lederman often combines mediums and materials to see what kinds of unexpected textures they may produce. Her use of crackled-paint effects and of words that seem to float in generally austere compositions helps evoke time and memory as ongoing themes.  Such is the case in Trace (graphite and encaustic on paper, mounted on birch panel, 2004), whose title is etched in a thickly impastoed white background. In I’m On Edge (I Miss You), 1996-2003, a large moody painting in oil and alkyd on linen, an empty straight-backed chair hovers in a distant dark blue sky, and is seemingly engaged in a silent dialogue of longing and loss with an empty armchair plunked down in a broad foreground of brushy, daubed colors.  (In fact according to the artist, this work alludes to her deceased mother.  In the small, ambiguous Pont Mirabeau (Orange), in oil and acrylic on canvas (2006-2007), a leafless tree stands alone either on an island or rooted in a pond, whil in The Slow Sky (encaustic on wood, 2005), a floral shape rises out of a thick murk of wax the color of dirty snow.

Brody-Lederman has noted that her works are inspired by impressions snatched from everyday life—a snippet of conversation overheard here, a memorable gesture or object spotted there.  Like stones thrown into a still pool, causing the surface to ripple’ these saved revisited observations serve artist and viewer alike as starting points for mental and emotional meanderings.

—-Edward M. Gomez

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Interview with Leah Oates, NY Arts Magazine

1. When did you know you were an artist?

I knew that I was an artist when I was very young. At about 5 years of age my mother and I would visit my grandparents and while they talked in the living room I would be given a piece of paper with a pencil that had been sharpened in the kitchen sink with a bread knife.  Even at that young age I was aware that making art made my breathing slow down and made me feel happy.

2. How do you conceptualize your images?  They are very layered and it seems that you work on your paintings in stages.  Is that so?

I start a painting in many different ways.  Sometimes a painting’s inspiration comes from seeing a color or combination of colors in my everyday life and deciding that I want to use them in my art. Sometimes it is an image that moves me. As for your question as to whether I paint in stages, I can finish a painting quickly over a period of a day and conversely I can work on a painting over a long period, layer upon layer, until the original kernel of the painting has quite disappeared.

3. You are a native New Yorker and have seen the art scene in NYC change for a better and worse I assume.  Please elaborate.

I try not to keep abreast of the politics of the art world.  It would distract me from making art.  I want to make the best, most sincere, honest work that I can make.  In the past I have been lucky and have usually found a place to show it.  The work has also gained notice from people that I greatly respect. That is enough for me.

4, What is your family background?  Were there any artists in your family?

I was an only child growing up in a very eccentric family – but I’ve heard that everyone thinks that his or her family is eccentric.  My father was a larger than life, very overweight bon vivant.  He was in the real estate business in NYC and would take me all over the city to look at properties.  We would combine eating in various neighborhoods — Chinatown, Little Italy, Harlem, Arthur Avenue, etc., when we went to “look at property.”  We would wander in and out of food shops, churches, synagogues, and various business establishments on our trips.  I realize now that in reality I was taking field trips that explored urban sociology and diverse cultural practices within NYC. Museums were a part of the mix, neither higher nor lower than visits to a special fruit store or a food shop in Chinatown where we bought honey slathered chicken hanging from a hook in the window.  That was my introduction to art making – seeing how wondrous and colorful the world was.

Later my father started to make art.  He took a course in painting at the New School and started to hang out with his instructors at The Cedar Bar.  One day he told me that he met a fabulous Dutchman.  His name was Wilhelm de Kooning!  My father subsequently opened an art gallery in the then wilderness of the Washington Market area, what is now Tribeca.  He showed all his artist friends’ work there. He was interviewed about his gallery outpost on The Voice of America, a US government radio program with a worldwide audience.

My mother loved words and devoured novels and biographies about “the lost generation in Paris.” She enjoyed playing with words to create the well edited descriptions of her own life that suited her fancy. As an example, my father was not “fat;” he was “stout,” while I was “slender;” not “skinny.”   I came to realize early on that words had the capacity to be as powerfully graphic as art making did.

5. You draw from many sources for your paintings and text is incorporated as well. What comes first in the creation of any image, a phrase and then an image?  Where does the text come from?  It is a very strong part of your work and I think it leaves the images more open.  What are your thoughts on this?

I gather inspiration from many sources; personal photos, textiles, wallpaper, food and product packaging, poetry, overheard dialogue and visual memory. What I am trying to do by combining seemingly disparate words and images, is to make paintings that pay homage to the associative way the head and the heart ponder meaningful experiences.  I cannot say which comes first when I create a painting, text or image. It is a dance and I never know which is going to lead.

6. What makes painting a unique art medium from other such as photography or sculpture?

I don’t know.  Everything has aspects of being unique and in my bookwork I combine the 3 dimensionality of sculpture with painting.

7. You live in NYC and in Paris.  How do both arts communities differ or are they similar?

French people are in Paris and Americans are in NY.  I don’t mean to be glib, but people are people. On the whole artists are wonderfully special people, with many similarities in every culture around the world.

8. Has Paris or France influenced your life?

Yes, living in Paris is very sensual and much of the visual information there has an unknown quality to it for me.  Thus I see almost everything as new, fresh and visually exciting.  I find that I slow down in Paris, drink more wine, and immerse myself in ordinary life.  I have an existential faith that the totality of a life lived is the bedrock of true art making. Anyway it certainly is a lot of fun.

9. What advice would you give to an emerging artist in NYC who wants to show and be part of the scene?

I’m probably not the right person to answer this question.  I have good artist, dealer and writer friends, but I do not feel that I have ever been a part of any scene. I just quietly make my work.

I would advise an emerging artist to create the best, most sincere work he or she can and never sacrifice the work for anything political. I would also advise against showing work that is not ready to be seen.  Above all I would always try to be honorable in all my relationships, both art related and otherwise. That’s it.

10. What upcoming series, projects, shows etc do you have coming up?

This winter I had a one person show, “Out Gallivanting,” with OK Harris Gallery who shows my work in NYC.  Now I am allowing my new work to build organically, understanding that a major show always allows for a punctuation mark in terms of future work.  I will be showing work this spring at a show curated by Arlene Bujese at Spanierman Gallery in East Hampton.  I will also be showing unique bookwork at Brooklyn College and will be exhibiting work at the Centre Librarie d’art Contemporaine outside of Paris this summer.  But right now I am enjoying making art with no immediate pressures. It is a delicious act of blind faith with no script or formula.  I truly feel that I’m just a “flaneuse” out for a walk.

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Edward Albee Preface

I dropped by an exhibition in East Hampton the other day — a display of artists’ books and book-like objects (in one of the few serious galleries in this part of Long Island) — and was drawn at once to a piece by Stephanie Brody-Lederman. It sprang to my attention — not by size or ostentation or vulgarity, but by its confident, unapologetic, riviting presence.

This is an experience I have had often with Lederman’s work. Her art signals “hey, here I am!” and is always worthy of the attention it wants. As I say, it does not shout, or wave its parts around; it draws one by its concentrated individuality, its wry and touching approach to its touching concerns. The calligraphy, the seemingly childish drawing, the surprisingly apt color choices (when the surprise is not in color’s absence) define the experience.

The aesthetic was coherent from the beginning, and while UPSTATE, HE COULDN’T HELP HIMSELF and THE REOAD TO ANTIBES stand out for me, they stand out in the midst of a high level of excellence.

Edward Albee
August, 1992

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Greg Masters Review

Stephanie Brody-Lederman

(Rastovski, March 11–29, 1987)

Stephanie Brody-Lederman’s very colorful pictograms are created from a range of images complemented with words and phrases integrated into the composition. Their starting point might be the picture cards we saw as children, but her embellishments are highly charged explorations that stretch and far exceed the boundaries of that format.
It’s as if her words were hints to a narrative we begin to interpret on reacting to the images. The visuals and text become two vocabularies that merge in these playful syntax salads. They’re like tarot cards of a personal journalism. We can recognize the personal references; memories and reactions are evoked with images that serve as specific symbols for the vague moment. The clutter of context is stripped away and the essential elements stand out in dream space—ladders against a brick wall, three cherries, a dog, ax, a semaphore-like emblem, rowboats.
All are awash in her beautifully worked surfaces. Her handling of paint is where she proves herself to be more than an illustrator of the subconscious. Her colors are deep and reach the peak of radiance. The arrangement enhances their primary boldness. She uses whites and blacks to explore the colder recesses from which starker tones are harnessed. By bleaching an image to its natural peculiarities, she relocates us to a ghost dimension where everything must now be reassessed without its former sentimental associations.
She provides the graffiti for what we might be thinking or what she’d like us to consider. She leads us into a vulnerable zone where we’re given both the emblems and the primal subtitles of a personal reminiscence. Each composition is a panel from the artist’s emotional education. But, in the transference, the lesson has been charged with her spirit of fun and gaiety. The collage effects, fabled phrases, bold arrangements, worked textures and immediacy and pleasure of her colors illumine the gallery rooms and treat the viewer to a series of work that should motivate billboards.

Greg Masters

New York City

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Ron Bishop Edison Community College Essay

May 2, 2001

Gallery of Fine Art
Edison Community College
“Tropisms and Small Fires”
May 11 – July 8, 2001

Opening Reception:  May 11, 6pm to 8pm

Artist’s Talk:             May 11, 7pm

Contact:  Ron Bishop, Curator

This exhibit features the work of New York artist Stephanie Brody Lederman.  The exhibit includes more than 40 paintings completed in the 90’s.  Lederman’s work, in a sense, is a cronicle of our time and the universal story of our lives.  As in Gertrude Stein’s concept of “everybody’s autobiography,” Lederman offers, through the generalities of our daily sojourn, insights into our lives, our social interactions, and our intimate personal contact with our own individual realities.

Lederman’s work does not fit into an ‘ism, it does not rely on a movement or a category for it’s validation.  It is neither mainstream nor fashionable art. Her work is raw and fresh, yet sly in presentation and technical accomplishment. But most of all it originates at the core of her being.  Therein lies the power and the authenticity of her work.

Asked to comment on her work Stephanie responded in a recent statement, “because my art involves words and discernable images, I am working with concrete meaning in search of a metaphor that is richer than the simplicity of the images. I want to touch the viewer in a way that enables him or her to access sincere feeling and emotional truths ….. I feel more comfortable with the tender telling of taking a dog to the vet, than philosophical treatises on power and love.  I want to show the complexity and beauty of life, the poetry inherent in the ordinary.”  To that end words and images play off each other in the viewer’s mind and are filtered by the personal record each individual carries.  Stephanie touches on the ordinary to show us the sublime.

In his remarks for the exhibition catalog, B. H. Friedman, noted author whose work includes Jackson Pollock: Energy Made Visible,” points to a connection between Lederman’s work and what Jean Dubuffet identified as l’art brut (Dubuffet organized the first major public exhibition of this art in 1949.)  Friedman effortlessly takes us through Dubuffet’s definition of l’art brut and states in the catalog essay (referring to Dubuffet’s Collection de l’Art Brut,) “I assume that if Dubuffet had owned post-Cubist Picassos or dripped Pollocks, work he admired, they, too, would have been included.  And so would Stephanie Brody Lederman if Dubuffet had known her work. It fits well into that special category of cultural art inspired by raw art.”

Lederman’s work is whimsical, serious and unpretentious. It is so pure that the viewer need not try to enter her work. It is remarkably accessible once the viewer dismisses attempts at literal translation.  The imagery and text work together metaphorically to invite each participant on a journey. The experience is initiated by Lederman’s selections and completed by each individual, culminating in a completely unique experience for every viewer.

Lederman’s work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, NYC,

Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY, The Jewish Museum, NY, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, Newark Museum, NJ, Cooper Hewitt Museum NY, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and Yale University Library, New Haven, to name a few.

The reception and artist’s talk are open to the public.

Refreshments will be provided by the Docents of the Gallery of Fine Art, and Emmy award winning recording artist Kat Epple will be playing selections on flute.

Gallery hours:

Tuesday – Friday      10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Saturday                    11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sunday                        1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Phone:  941-489-9313

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Joseph Karoly Essay

Stephanie Brody-Lederman

OK Harris-Sept 11-October 16, 2004

Brody-Lederman is neither primitive nor faux naïve, but a fox in sheep’s disguise. Her schematic images and anti-calligraphic texts are a sophisticated, emotive short-hand mediated by a self-conscious sensibility. Each painting shows the process of excavation, and rebuilding to the point where a resonant, emotional tension is achieved.

There is a strong cinematic element to the paintings, often intuitively grouped to create serendipitous narrative associations. One thinks of Eric Rohmer and Francois Truffaut– annotators of the haplessness of the intellect to overcome behavioral flaws. Brody-Lederman shares with them a contemplation of the temporal vicissitudes of experience turned memory. In the painting “Fueled By What Remains,” the theme is one of loss, and the task of those who remain is to somehow absorb the unimaginable. Disasters echo each other, resonating in time as both private and collective trauma, ultimately bearable through the mollifying insistence of the mundane. We persevere. An overriding wit, humor and touch of Eros fuel Brody-Lederman’s complex emotional core, celebrating engagement rather than retreat from experience.

Joseph Karoly 9/04

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