Lee R. Chesney Biography

Lee R. Chesney




Lee R. Chesney, printmaker, painter and educator, was born in Washington, D.C. on June 1, 1920. He studied at the University of Colorado, Boulder with James Boyle, and received his B.F.A. in painting. Chesney continued his studies at the University of Iowa where he worked with Mauricio Lasansky and James Lechay, earning his M.F.A. in printmaking. Further studies took him to Universidad de Michoacan in Mexico where he studied with Alfredo Zalce.

He taught at the University of Illinois from 1950 to 1967 and was Chairman of Graduate Programs in Painting and Printmaking there. He served as Associate Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California from 1967 to 1972. Lee was Professor of Art and Chairman of Graduate Art Programs at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu from 1972 to 1984 and Professor Emeritus from 1984 to 2016. He was a member of the College Art Association of American and the Society of American Graphic Artists.

Lee Chesney wrote so eloquently about his satisfaction with intaglio printmaking: "Every medium has its appeals, its fascinations through its materials, its manipulations, and the way results are achieved. The artist's temperament naturally gravitates to some of these appeals more than others. I, for one, have never found a medium lacking in appeal or failing to beguile me and pique my interest to do more work. But only one medium has ignited an undying passion which after 60 years is undimmed. Why this should be so has always intrigued me. Intaglio printmaking is a slow complicated process utilizing an intractable material (metal) and only, indirectly providing the resulting print. Why it should have captivated my imagination from the first is only comprehensible when one considers the exhilarating moment when the print is removed from the plate--a miracle is born! The glistening black, upraised lines, the velvety dark and mysterious areas are alive, beautiful and suggestive. Every print from every plate recreates this magical moment."

Chesney's work was included in over 100 exhibitions worldwide and he had twenty-five solo exhibitions. He was awarded a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship to Japan and a University of Illinois Research Grant to France and Italy. He is represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; National Gallery of Art, Stockholm; Tate Gallery, London; Bibliothèque nationale de France; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Smithsonian American Art Museum; Library of Congress; Museum of Modern Art New York; Brooklyn Museum; Philadelphia Museum; Honolulu Academy of Arts; Oakland Museum of California; Seattle Art Museum; Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles; Portland Art Museum; Art Institute of Chicago; the Butler Institute of American Art; and numerous university collections.

Lee R. Chesney died in Yucaipa, California on January 21, 2016.