American art collector, paint manufacturer, lecturer, and painter, Leonard Bocour (nèe Leonard Bogdanoff) was born in 1910 in New York City. He studied at the National Academy of Design and at the Art Students League. In 1928, he met German artist Emil Ganso who taught him how to make artists' colors.
In 1932, Bocour established Bocour Hand Ground Artist Colors and sold paint directly to artists, greatly increasing his contacts and acquaintances in the art community. In this Depression era, Bocour often gave away paint to struggling artists who later became successful. Because artists would sometimes trade art work for tubes of paint, Bocour was able to build an impressive art collection that he would later loan for exhibition. He also donated numerous works of art to schools and museums.
Over the years, Bocour maintained a close relationship with artists, most notably Helen Frankenthaler, Philip Guston, Jack Levine, Morris Louis, and Philip Pearlstein. In the late 1930s, Bocour decided to increase his business by selling through retailers and wholesalers, gradually building a successful business.
From 1945 to 1955, Bocour joined the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine and for many years taught a summer technical course. In 1947, he developed Magna, an acrylic resin miscible with oil or turpentine that had the same consistency as oil paint, but dried in a fraction of the time. In 1960, Bocour introduced Aqua-Tec which is an acrylic polymer emulsion miscible with water.
From 1952 to 1970, Samuel Golden was Bocour's partner in the capacity of production manager. A merger with Zipatone, Inc. was carried out in 1982, but was dissolved in 1987. Zipatone, Inc. moved the company to Chicago, but Bocour remained in New York as president and consultant.
Beginning in the early 1960s, Bocour lectured at art schools and various arts organizations, discussing drawing, painting, and different art media as well as demonstrating his own products. He was a member of the National Art Materials Trade Association (NAMTA) and was president of the Art Material Manufacturers' Association, inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1974. Leonard Bocour died on Labor Day 1993.