James Lechay 1907–2001

James Lechay was a painter of figures, landscapes, cityscapes and still lifes who played a notable role in the tradition of avant-garde painting in New York and in the Midwest. An artist who defied categorization, he assimilated the precepts of modern European and American art, evolving a spare, semi-abstract style with expressionist overtones; as Lechay himself put it, he was an "abstract impressionist" who followed his own artistic agenda throughout the course of his career.

James Lechay was born in New York on July 5, 1907. He spent his childhood in Brooklyn; when he was thirteen his mother died, and he was sent to live with an uncle in Illinois. Lechay went on to attend the University of Illinois, where he received a B.A. in psychology in 1928. In 1929 he dropped out of graduate school to study with his brother, the painter Myron Lechay (1898-1972). He then traveled through Canada and the United States before settling in New York, where he became friendly with painters such as William Zorach, Milton Avery, Mark Rothko, Arshile Gorky and Raphael and Moses Soyer. In the 1930s, he was a leader of the Artists Union and worked for the government's Works Progress Administration, during which time he was sent to Las Vegas, New Mexico, to organize exhibitions of W.P.A. paintings by artists such as Milton Avery and Max Weber.

After his first one-man show in 1936, Lechay went on to have many solo exhibitions in New York and the Midwest. He participated in many group exhibitions and many of the major national annuals. In 1945, James Lechay joined the art faculty at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, working out of a studio that had once been used by Grant Wood. In the ensuing years, he also conducted summer workshops at institutions, including Stanford University, the Skowhegan School of Painting, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Studio Art School of the Aegean. After retiring from his position at the University of Iowa in 1972, Lechay moved to Wellfleet, Massachusetts, where he continued to paint and teach privately. Lechay continued to paint up until a few days before his death in Wellfleet on August 11, 2001.

Auction Results James Lechay

JAMES LECHAY, Land, Sea and Sky, Wellfleet | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Land, Sea and Sky, Wellfleet

estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $13,750
JAMES LECHAY, Beauford Delaney | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Beauford Delaney

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $5,850
JAMES LECHAY, Bay and Setting Sun | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Bay and Setting Sun

estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $5,000
JAMES LECHAY, Vertical Landscape with Dark Sky | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Vertical Landscape with Dark Sky

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $4,063
JAMES LECHAY, Beach, Blue and Orange | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Beach, Blue and Orange

estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $3,750
JAMES LECHAY, Yellow Flowers in Yellow Vase on Yellow Table | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Yellow Flowers in Yellow Vase on Yellow Table

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $2,000
JAMES LECHAY, A Two Part Landscape | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

A Two Part Landscape

estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $1,875
JAMES LECHAY, Play of Green and a Spot of Red | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Play of Green and a Spot of Red

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $1,875
JAMES LECHAY, Nude | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Nude

estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $1,875
JAMES LECHAY, Self Portrait | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Self Portrait

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $1,875
JAMES LECHAY, Rooftops | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Rooftops

estimate: $1,000–1,500
result: $1,625
JAMES LECHAY, Icaria with Portrait | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Icaria with Portrait

estimate: $2,500–3,500
result: $1,560
JAMES LECHAY, Blue Red and Yellow at Five | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Blue Red and Yellow at Five

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $1,500
JAMES LECHAY, Separated Still Life with Bottles | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Separated Still Life with Bottles

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $1,500
JAMES LECHAY, Paris 1969 with Blue | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Paris 1969 with Blue

estimate: $1,500–2,500
result: $1,250
JAMES LECHAY, Bird | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Bird

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $1,250
JAMES LECHAY, Bouquet | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Bouquet

estimate: $1,000–1,500
result: $1,188
JAMES LECHAY, Two x Two | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Two x Two

estimate: $1,800–2,400
result: $1,125
JAMES LECHAY, Untitled | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Untitled

estimate: $800–1,000
result: $1,063
JAMES LECHAY, Pitcher, Fruit and Bottles | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Pitcher, Fruit and Bottles

estimate: $1,500–2,500
result: $960
JAMES LECHAY, Vision - Sixty - One | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Vision - Sixty - One

estimate: $1,500–2,500
result: $938
JAMES LECHAY, Resting Nude | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Resting Nude

estimate: $500–800
result: $938
JAMES LECHAY, Portrait (Green) | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Portrait (Green)

estimate: $1,500–2,500
result: $938
JAMES LECHAY, Still Life with Red Flowers | ragoarts.com

James Lechay

Still Life with Red Flowers

estimate: $1,000–1,500
result: $845