- Collection ID:
- Physical Description:
The Don Eddy and Leigh Behnke papers, 1966-2009, measure 7.2 linear feet. Photographic materials, printed material, and writings document the realist painters' work, working methods, and exhibitions. Also found are subject files, some professional correspondence and personal photographs.
Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
The Don Eddy and Leigh Behnke papers, 1966-2009, measure 7.2 linear feet. Photographic materials, printed material, and writings document the realist painters' work, working methods, and exhibitions. Also found are subject files, some professional correspondence, and personal photographs.
Don Eddy's papers consist largely of photographic materials, writings, and printed material. Photographic materials include images of completed work and a significant amount of source material that documents Eddy's working methods. Also found are exhibition installation views, personal and travel pictures. Writings include a dissertation and two theses in which he figures prominently. Most printed material mentions Eddy or contains reproductions of his work.
The papers of Leigh Behnke, less voluminous than her husband's, are comprised mainly of photographic materials, printed material, and subject files. Among the photographic materials are images that served as source material and document her working methods. All printed material mentions Behnke or contains reproductions of her work. Subject files document projects, exhibitions, and miscellaneous topics.
The collection is arranged as 2 series:
- Series 1: Don Eddy papers, 1966-2009 (Boxes 1-6, 9-10; 5.8 linear feet)
- Series 2: Leigh Behnke papers, 1974-2009 (Boxes 6-9; 1.4 linear feet)
Don Eddy (b. 1944) and Leigh Behnke (b. 1946) are realist painters in New York City. They are married and both teach at the School of Visual Arts. Eddy is one of the thirteen original Photorealists.
Don Eddy was born in Long Beach, California. From around age ten until he left home to attend college, he worked at his father's auto body shop and became proficient in airbrush technique and color matching paint. Eddy studied with Jean Charlot at the University of Hawaii (B.F.A. 1967, M.F.A. 1969). His early paintings employed pictorial illusion and their subject matter came from material culture; part-time work as a tourist photographer in Honolulu prompted him to experiment with and think deeply about photography, leading him to the style that would come to be known as Photorealism. He was first recognized for paintings of automobiles done in acrylic using the spray technique learned at the auto body shop. From the 1970s and well into the next decade, Eddy's work was object oriented. Later, he produced "dream" paintings that included details from Old Master paintings, floating objects that introduced psychological elements and perceptual challenges. Over the next decade he simplified his imagery by pursuing still life and nature painting with complex, layered surfaces. Using photographs he takes himself as source material, Eddy continues to paint urban and nature scenes and has developed elaborate procedures for underpainting and overpainting. He teaches at the School of Visual Arts and is represented by Nancy Hoffman Gallery, New York.
Leigh Behnke, a native of Hartford, Connecticut, moved to New York City to attend Pratt Institute (B.F.A. 1969) and later studied at New York University (M.A. 1976). Behnke paints in oil and watercolor using her own photographs and digital images as source material. Interests in architecture, interiors, history, memory, nature, and scientific concepts are reflected in her work. She combines images and employs multi panels (diptych and polyptych) as a device for focusing on perception and pictorial space, commenting on images, and redefining subjects from other vantage points. Behnke has taught at the School of Visual Arts since 1979. She is represented by Fischbach Gallery, New York, and Plus One Gallery, London.
This collection was processed to a minimum level and a finding aid prepared by Catherine S. Gaines in 2012.The Archives of American Art has implemented minimal processing tactics when possible in order to increase information about and access to more of our collections. Minimal processing included arrangement to the series and folder levels. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles, but not arranged further. Folders within boxes were not numbered. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders, but not all staples and clips were removed.
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
Donated by Don Eddy and Leigh Behnke in 2009.
Using the Collection
Don Eddy and Leigh Behnke papers, 1966-2009. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Restrictions on Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Don Eddy and Leigh Behnke papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
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