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collaborative painting by Ira and Corliss Lesser

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Ira and Corliss Lesser

collaborative painting by artists Ira and Corliss Lesser

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mixed media piece by collaborative artists Ira and Corliss Lesser


Collaborative Artists Ira & Corliss Lesser

A Forty Year Ongoing Pictorial Dialogue

"Like collaborative artists Gilbert and George, and Komar and Melamid, we began our collaboration in the late 60's. We are part of a movement of kindred spirits that wished to create something of and outside ourselves." Corliss Lesser
collaborative painting by Ira and Corliss Lesser

"We don't have anything to say except with our pictures." Gilbert

"We don't want to think. It's exhausting enough without that." George

"We don't want to know what we are doing. It's much better not to know. You have to start all over again. It's extraordinary stuff-what an artist has to do. You finish a big group of works, then the next day you have to begin again. Forty years we've been doing that." Gilbert

"Alexander Melamid speaks of his collaboration with Vitaly Komer, “Our best ideas are born from talking, then the spark comes” Glenn Zorpette, ArtNews Summer 1994.

"Speaking on our collaboration, Ira, had seen too much art lost by discussion. This increased the intuitive nature of our work. We seem to share what we feel needs to be expressed. This does not mean that we always agree, it's a give and take process. We stay with a painting until we both agree it's finished, not always understanding what we are saying and even when we do have opinions they are not always the same." Corliss Lesser

collaborative painting by artists Ira and Corliss Lesser

Ira and I met in downtown Los Angeles. We came from opposite ends of a spectrum. Ira, had grown up in New York, been on his own since he was fifteen due to the death of his parents. Ira, at the age of twenty-six, when we met, had already had a rich life, one full of experience. I had just turned twenty-two years of age, and had lived the perfect middle class existence, safe, no hardships, no luxuries.

I had been interested in collaboration before I met Ira, but it was Ira who brought about our first collaboration designed so we could be together. Understanding the art world was not receptive to collaborative art in 1969, we created a "pseudo- artist" Gregor Zak. ( below, right) The experiment lasted a short time.

collaborative painting by artists Ira and Corliss Lesser

Our relationship was open. It was the beginning of the sexual revolution and we had two rules, we could not limit the growth of the other, and we prefered truth, no matter how difficult, to deception.

Ira understood my need to experience life. He loved sharing and began introducing me to a non-linear existence. The next seven years were spent building the foundation for our dialogue.


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