Helen Lundeberg (1908 – 1999) was born in Chicago but was raised and spent much of her working life in southern California, enjoying the relative solitude that it offered. As an art student at the Stickney Memorial School of Art, Lundeberg took an interest in Old Master and Early Renaissance work, developing a precise, linear, hard edge style. While at school, Lundeberg also developed a professional, and later romantic, relationship with one of her instructors, Lorser Feitelson. Together, Lundeberg and Feitelson developed New Classicism or, as it became known later, Post Surrealism which emphasized the processes of the rational mind instead of the focus on hallucinatory imagery and dreamscapes of European Surrealism. Lundeberg outlined this American response to European Surrealism in a 1934 manifesto entitled New Classicism in which she wrote “in New Classicism alone do we find an aesthetic which departs from the principles of the decorative graphic arts to found a unique order, and integrity of subject matter and pictorial structure unprecedented in the history of art." Lundeberg’s Post Surrealist work from this time has carefully planned compositions, which guide the viewer through the painting, slowly revealing layers of meaning. Later in her career, Lundeberg’s painting style shifted toward geometric abstraction, using semi-abstract forms, precise lines, and a restricted color palette to create lyrical compositions. Over her 60-year career, Lundeberg continued to explore both abstract and figurative ways of creating emotionally resonant work.
Helen Lundeberg's works are included in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art among many other institutions. Recent exhibitions of Lundeberg’s work include Real/Surreal, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2011-2012); Pacific Standard Time, Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture 1950 – 1970, J. Paul Getty Museum of Art, Los Angeles (2011-2012); In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Artists in Mexico and The United States, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles (2012); and Something Revealed; California Women Artists Emerge, 1860-1960, Pasadena Museum of History (2018).