Tom Liesegang

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Tom Liesegang
Tom Liesegang 10.jpg
Born (1955-05-24) May 24, 1955 (age 66)
Occupation Printmaking, painting
Years active1980–present

Tom Liesegang (Thomas Kirby von Richter Liesegang, born May 24, 1955) is an American artist who has lived and worked in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, as well as Amsterdam, Netherlands. His art is held in many public and private collections throughout the world. [1] [2] [3]


Career and Development

Inspired by Michelangelo's Pietà at the 1964 New York World's Fair, Liesegang knew at nine years of age that he wanted to become an artist. [1] Upon graduation from high school, Liesegang supported himself with his composition skills as a window decorator for a chain of woman's fashion stores throughout New England.

After a brief sojourn to Los Angeles in 1977–1978, Liesegang returned to Boston to begin his art career. With no formal training beyond private painting lessons at age 12, exhibition of his work began in 1980 and continued into the 1990s. In 1992, Liesegang relocated to New York City, switched from acrylic to oil painting and explored the diptych narrative format. In the aftermath of 9/11, Liesegang moved to Amsterdam where he began his foray into printmaking. Tombstone rubbings, often taken from the floors of some of Europe's oldest cathedrals and transferred into the screen printing process, inspired the artist to also incorporate the visual structure of illuminated manuscripts into his print work.

While in Amsterdam, Liesegang and film-maker Catharina Ooijens created Orka Fine Arts in 2004. The two created a documentary film concerning the Nazi confiscation of the Dutch International Archive for Woman. The film, titled, Private Possession, is in the permanent archives at the Hague. [1]

Liesegang's subsequent works involve commemorative printmaking for marine vessels. [1] The first being a limited, ten-print, commission from the United States Navy for the USS Virginia submarine. The print includes an image of the USS Virginia's sea-trials, incorporated with design drawings of the first ironclad fighting ship, the CSS Virginia, obtained from the archives at the Maritime Museum at Newport, Virginia. Prints were awarded to key contractors and sponsors, including Senator John Warner, Admiral Edmund Giambastiani and Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, the daughter of President Lyndon Johnson. [4] [5]

In addition to printmaking on paper, Liesegang developed a method to use aluminum as his canvas; this allowed the ship's commemorative art to be made from the shipbuilder's materials and then framed with the identical woodwork that was used on the ship's interior. Printmaking is a tradition in the Netherlands, with Rembrandt being a notable contributor to the medium. [1]

Since 2013, Liesegang is back in the United States and now divides his time between his painting studio in central Massachusetts and his involvement with the Amsterdam Grafisch Altelier art studio in Amsterdam.

Themes and Series

Shallow Grave by Tom Liesegang.jpg
Shallow Grave
Herbertstrasse by Tom Liesegang.jpg
St. Sebastian by Tom Liesegang.jpg
St. Sebastian
Indefatigable by Tom Liesegang.jpg
Last Rites by Tom Liesegang.jpg
Last Rites
Composition in Night and Blue by Tom Liesegang.jpg
Composition in Night and Blue

Liesegang's painting is considered diverse and thematic, characterized by textured surfaces and bold graphic imagery often structured as diptychs. Much of Liesegang's work of the 1980s and 90's referenced history in order to confront contemporary issues such as geopolitics, sexuality, death, and religion. Direct observation of nature characterizes his most recent work.

Death Series (1982-1983)

Death Series explored the immediacy of materials constructed over self-built light boxes exposing illuminated x-rays. This work came about following the sudden death of the artist's father in 1982. Titles such as, "Dead Men Tell No Tales" and "Shallow Grave" reference violence in American society as a cultural marker.

Red Light Series (1984-1987)

Red Light Series (1984–1987) Influenced by German Expressionism, this series depicts strippers and prostitutes in often bold, jarring compositional structure. Liesegang saw irony between mainstream advertising's usage of sexuality with the female form and illicit outdoor advertising for prostitution found in many European cities at that time.

Martyr Series (1990-1992 )

Martyr Series isolates the human figure on a life-size scale, Liesegang referenced 2nd and 3rd century subject matter as a basis for depicting the human figure, often in contorted poses to express human suffering. Diptychs rendered in a monochromatic palette often incorporating a three dimensional object and related text, resulted in a visual narrative.

Conflict Series (1986-2001)

Conflict Series was Liesegang’s response to the "Tanker War" in the Persian Gulf in 1984 and subsequent Middle East conflicts, Liesegang referenced the current political global situation as a challenge to redefine the tradition-bound genre of maritime art. The artist's objective was to rely less on hyper-realism, than by dramatic use of composition, color, and emotion often incorporating periscope views in order to draw the viewer into the impending drama.

Mystical Series (2007-2010)

After a life-altering out-of-body experience in 2007, Liesegang relied on print making in an attempt to depict an ineffable experiential mystery in his Mystical Series.

Present Efforts (2011-Present)

Since 2011, Liesegang's work is influenced by direct observation of nature. Against a contemporary backdrop of mass consumerism and an over reliance on technology. Semi abstracted water reflections and layered glass-like surfaces characterize this recent work.

Select List of Collections Holding Tom Liesegang's Work

Liesegang's work is held in the public collections of:


Humor is absent from Tom Liesegang's portraits of Christian martyrs, also a favorite subject of 17th century Baroque artists commissioned by the Catholic Church. Liesegang invokes the Berniniesque strategy of depicting (and thuse engaging the viewer in) the horrific moment of martyrdom. In the triptych "The Martyrdom of Margaret Clitherow," as 16th-century English woman crushed to death by judicial order, Liesegan accompanies paintings of a woman's bound foot and hand with a real brass weight - a material reminder of the contemporary world similarly weighted by torture and injustice.

Shawn Hill, ""Contemporary 'materials' are used to explore basic (sexual) dichotomies in two current shows", The Boston Globe , April 30, 1992 [9]

The paintings themselves take many different forms. Liesegang tend to work in series, fleshing a challenge out to its logical conclusion. [...] Street paintings convincingly simulate the look and feel of asphalt. Cave paintings capture the claustrophobic majesty of ancient peoples and hieroglyphics. A series on streetwalkers is appropriately decadent, and a series of X-Ray paintings shows that Liesegang has given thought to new modes.

Isak Rocco, "Liesegang Straight Paint", FAD Magazine, January 1989, pp. 38,39 [10]

If you look a little more closely at the print, you’ll also see a colorful map, to the right. It depicts part of the southern coast of Holland, not far from where Heesen’s facilities are located. Liesegang likes to incorporate additional elements that have a personal point of reference for the owner. Whether it’s something like this, or even the homeport of the yacht, Liesegang believes it’s essential, so that the piece is truly custom and unlike any other. Even the custom frames for his prints have a personal connection. 4You’s print frame isn’t shown here, but it’s made of the same wood that adorns her interior.
So how does Liesegang create these works of art? Through a chemical process and sanding that allow him to etch the aluminum. He also works closely with the shipyard’s management team and the naval architects to select and interpret the architectural drawings, then the cabinetry shop for the frame.

Diane M. Byrne, "Tom Liesegang, Metal Master", MegaYacht News, October 11, 2010 [5]

As his art evolved, Liesegang found himself returning to themes that had inspired him as a twelve year old working class kid in Boston: drawings and paintings of clipper ships, sea battles and other maritime themes but with a twist born out of the inspiration of 1960s cover art for ship model kits and wartime propaganda posters. Periscope views became one of Liesegang's signature themes, which has been instrumental in redefining maritime art for the 21st century.

Staff writer, "Orka Fine Arts", SuperYacht Industry, Volume 5, Issue 1, 2010 , pp.36-39 [6]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Roberts, B. (14 January 2011). "Orka Fine Arts – The Art of Superyachts". Archived from the original on 17 September 2015. Retrieved 17 September 2015. Reacting against the 19th century Romantic Movement, Liesegang's work takes some of the fundamental elements of a yachts construction, such as aluminum, teak, and glass in an effort to re-define maritime art and take it into the 21st century.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 "Tom Liesegang: MUSEUM AND CORPORATE COLLECTIONS". Handsel Gallery. Archived from the original on 13 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Biography: Tom Liesegang". Archived from the original on 13 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015. Tom Liesegang is active/lives in New York, California, Massachusetts / Netherlands. Tom Liesegang is known for historical theme paintings, narrative.
  4. Liesegang, Tom (10 March 2010). "USS VIRGINIA". Orka Fine Arts. Archived from the original on 16 September 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Byrne, Diane M. (11 October 2010). "Tom Liesegang, Metal Master". MegaYacht News. Archived from the original on 13 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 "Orka Fine Arts". SuperYacht Industry. The Netherlands: Yellow & Finch. 5 (1). 2010. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  7. Halbe, Jochen (May–June 2011). "Yachten in Zwei Dimensionen". Meer & Yachten (in German). Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  8. "THE PLACES". New Orleans. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  9. Hill, Shawn (30 April 1992). "Contemporary 'materials' are used to explore basic (sexual) dichotomies in two current shows". The Boston Globe .
  10. Rocco, Isak (January 1989). "Liesegan Straight Paint" (13). Fad Magazine.