In my copious free time (it’s still freakin’ winter here in New York, so I can’t exactly go swimming!) I’ve been going through Julian’s Auction House‘s most recent offerings. I’ve found lots of goodies but they have some 20 paintings by an artist I had never heard of – Clayton LeFevre. All of the celebrity portraits were being auctioned by his estate. I found a post saying he was born in Winter Park, Florida and that he lived in Brooklyn (and worked as a waiter) up until his death in 2006. Although at some point from my sleuthing, I gathered that he has also lived in Houston as well as West Hollywood. A short mention in the LA Times says, “When Prince Charles declined to sign a painting of himself by Clayton LeFevre on grounds that the royal family does not give autographs, the West Hollywood artist was a bit put out. After all, LeFevre said, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Reagan, Eddie Murphy and other famous folks have scribbled their names on his acrylic portraits. So he decided to mark the upcoming visit of the Duke and Duchess of York with a mannequin display in the window of his gallery on Santa Monica Boulevard depicting Fergie and her royal mother-in-law as bag ladies. “I thought,” explained LeFevre, “if they are so much above it all, how would they like to be put in the position that a lot of their countrymen are in? The royal family has this regal life style and there is a lot of poverty in England.”
Anyway, all of the paintings at auction are signed by each celebrity. His method to get them to do this was to make two paintings, get them to sign his and give the other to the subject. (Who is going to say no to a free portrait of themselves?) All of the stars are SO of their time period, in addition to the ones shown here; Diane Cannon (actress and once married to Cary Grant), Liz Smith (Texan and NY gossip columnist for decades) Linda Evans (of Dynasty fame) and the late Helen Gurley Brown (editor of Cosmopolitan magazine) there is a veritable “Who’s That?”, I mean a “Who’s WHO” of 70s and 80s culture; Hall & Oats, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Lionel Richie, Whitney Houston – the list goes on. His painting style is very of the period, as well. Richard Bernstein (below, left) illustrated hundreds of covers for Interview magazine, which might seem odd, as they are a similar style to founder Andy Warhol’s portraits. The late illustrator Antonio Lopez (center) did fashion as portraits and contemporary artist, Richard Philips who works in a similar vein, did this portrait of Taylor Swift (below right) as part of a celebrity series.
These paintings aren’t really great (and frankly the inscriptions kind of ruin them for me) but they DO captured something of the period that is very intriguing. I like them. I’d kind of like to own one. I’m tempted to bid on one online but I’m NOT about to tell you which one I’m interested in.