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Luc Leestemaker Biography

Born in Hilversum, Netherlands



The grandson of a royal court painter, Luc Leestemaker began dappling in abstract expressionist painting in his native Netherlands while pursuing other professional activities. Upon moving to the United States in 1990, he devoted himself full-time to painting and developed a more lyrical style that bridged abstraction and realism. He drew inspiration from Mark Rothko and 18th-century Dutch and English landscape painters. On his larger canvases, he uses a fresco technique—treating the ground with a thin layer of cement and mixing in raw pigment powder before working in acrylic paint and finishing the composition with an oil-based varnish—to lend the painting a sense of layering and luminosity. He achieves a similar effect on his smaller “inner landscapes” using a palette knife. Leestemaker says his atmospheric landscapes “express my emotion/intuition of the abstract compositions as well as the universally understood language of landscape painting.”

During his lifetime, Leestemaker was fortunate to enjoy recognition among many galleries, museums, and esteemed collectors. Museum exhibits included a retrospective at the Bakersfield Art Museum, California, and West Valley Art Museum, Phoenix. Numerous solo Exhibitions were held at galleries in Boston, MA; Zurich, Switzerland; Santa Monica, CA; Santa Fe, NM, Palm Desert, CA; Palm Beach, FL, and Atlanta, GA.

Always interested in how art could reach an audience beyond the traditional walls, Leestemaker collaborated with a number of developers, architects, designers and movie studios to successfully integrate his paintings into public spaces and movie sets including “Spiderman,” “Erin Brockovich,” “Fracture,” and “Shopgirl.” Collections and projects also included Bellagio Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV; Four Seasons Hotel, Bahamas; Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA; Miyako Hotel, Tokyo, Japan; McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, NV, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Los Angeles, CA; Toyota USA Headquarters, Torrance, CA; Genzyme Headquarters, Boston, MA.

Leestemaker believed that life would yield the most profound rewards only when we choose to confront, even embrace, what we most fear in our lives. Over the years, he would devote many unpaid hours to artists and non-artists alike, lecturing and giving workshops on the creative process, the artist’s identity, and the symbiosis between artist and society. To this end, Leestemaker published a memoir-like book, “The Intentional Artist: Stories From My Life,” in 2010.

Several other books and catalogues, including the monograph “Luc Leestemaker: Paintings” (2004), have documented Leestemaker’s oeuvre, as has the widely-screened film “Swimming Through The Clouds: A Portrait of the Artist” (2008), directed by Terence Gross and Ruy Carpenter.

In March 2012, Leestemaker was selected as a Star of Design in the art category by the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, CA. In his acceptance speech at this awards ceremony, Leestemaker remarked that the award was “a coming home in a way.” After all, just eighteen years before he was a starving artist in a one-bedroom apartment in Hollywood thinking, “How am I going to make it as an artist?”

In the last several years of his life, Leestemaker achieved multiple artistic breakthroughs resulting in one new series of paintings after another, such as Voyager, Kyoto, and Haiku. His cancer diagnosis in 2010 only made him more determined to express himself through paint, resulting in some of the most vibrant and dynamic works of his entire career.  On May, 18, 2012, Leestemaker passed away peacefully on his 55th birthday. As well as being a part of major corporate and private collections, Leestemaker’s work continues to be exhibited in museums, galleries, and various public spaces widely throughout North America and Europe. In 2014, Luc’s work debuted in China for exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Beijing (MoCA Beijing).