Edward Leffingwell

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Edward G. Leffingwell (December 3, 1941 – August 5, 2014) was an American art critic and curator, affiliated with MoMA/P.S.1 and Art in America [1] and associated with avant-garde art. [2] [3]

Leffingwell was born in Sharon, Pennsylvania, on December 3, 1941. [1] In the mid-1960s he moved to New York City and began associating with Max's Kansas City and the Warhol Factory crowd. [1] During the 1960s and 1970s he was involved with a variety of avant-garde art projects, including a 1969 film by sculptor John Chamberlain ("The Secret Life of Hernando Cortez"). [1]

In the late 1970s Leffingwell left New York to take care of his mother, who was ill, and began to transition to a curatorial career in the arts. [1] He entered Youngstown State University, completing a B.A. in 1982, and went on in 1984 to earn an M.A. in art history from the University of Cincinnati. [1]

In 1985 he was hired by PS1, now affiliated with New York's Museum of Modern Art. [1]

Leffingwell organized a number of key exhibitions, including two while he was in school. His first exhibition, in 1983, was at the Butler: "Chinese Chance: An American Collection", which profiled the collection of Leffingwell's long-time associate, Mickey Ruskin, who had been one of the owners of Max's Kansas City. [1] His next major exhibition was at the University of Cincinnati, reviewing Lawrence Weiner, a conceptual artist. [1]

Over the next several years Leffingwell organized several significant shows. In New York, he developed a 20-year retrospective of sculptor John McCracken ("John McCracken: Heroic Stance") and a 1987 show of artist Michael Tracy ("Michael Tracy: Terminal Privileges"). [4] In 1997 at P.S.1 he organized a retrospective of the work of artist and filmmaker Jack Smith [1] [5] ("Jack Smith: Flaming Creature: His Amazing Life and Times"). [3] He also organized a show on James Rosenquist, [5] and "About Place: Contemporary American Landscape" (1986). [3]

Leffingwell spent four years in Los Angeles, directing the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Park from 1988 to 1992. [1] There he organized an exhibition of George Herms, and a proposed biennial show, LAX: The Los Angeles Exhibition, a contemporary art exhibition spanning seven to eight institutions. [1] [2]

During this time Leffingwell became interested in and associated with Brazilian art and the São Paulo Art Biennial. [1] For that biennial, he organized a show on the painter Neil Williams, one of long-time friends and associates. [1]

Leffingwell wrote prolifically, penning hundreds of reviews and critical essays for Art in America , as well as contributing to scholarship on artist Lawrence Weiner, photographer Joe Deal, [2] artist Judith Murray, [3] Claude Monet and Jack Smith. [5]

Leffingwell died from cardiac arrest in Flushing, Queens, on August 5, 2014, at the age of 72, after suffering from Parkinson's disease. [1] [3]



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Roberta Smith, "Edward G. Leffingwell, Curator, Dies at 72" (obituary), The New York Times , Aug. 19, 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 Steve Chawkins, "Edward Leffingwell Dies at 72; Former Director of the L.A. Municipal Art Gallery" (obituary), Los Angeles Times , Aug. 15, 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Elizabeth Fazzare, "Edward Leffingwell, 1941-2014" (obituary), Art in America , Aug. 13, 2014.
  4. Michael Brenson, "Art: Religious Works by Michael Tracy" (review), The New York Times, Nov. 6, 1987.
  5. 1 2 3 Andrew Russeth, "Critic and Curator Edward Leffingwell Dies at 72" (obituary), ARTnews, Aug. 15, 2014.

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