Boris Leven

Boris Leven: Baldwin Park Oil Fields P2273

Regular price $1,700.00

Boris Leven: Baldwin Park Oil Fields, Los Angeles, 1930s watercolor. L.A. history from this Academy Award winning artist.

Boris Leven was born in Moscow, where he first studied painting and design. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1927 and attended the University of Southern California, graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture in 1932. He went on to complete his education at the Beaux Arts Institute of Design in New York and, the following year, was signed by Paramount to work as a sketch artist and illustrator under the tutelage of the experienced art director Hans Dreier. After a three-year apprenticeship, Leven went on to work for independent producer Samuel Goldwyn. His big break came in 1937, when he was signed under contract at 20th Century Fox as fully-qualified art director and production designer.

Leven remained at Fox until 1947, then joined Universal (1947-48), free-lanced, had another spell with Fox (1951-52), then worked for United Artists (1953) and Warner Brothers (1954-55). In-between, he worked privately on oil and watercolor paintings, some of which found their way into private collections, or were exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Leven became best known in the 1950's for his work on the production design of Giant (1956), for which he set the scene with the indelible image of an opulent Victorian mansion, contrasting like a monolith against the broad expanse of harsh Texan prairie - providing allegorical imagery of copious human materialism vis-à-vis raw nature. In 1962, Leven won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction and Set Decoration for West Side Story (1961), a mixture of deliberately stylised theatrically-based sets and realistic New York locations. His other notable films during this period were The Sound of Music (1965) and The Sand Pebbles (1966), his work being greatly facilitated by picturesque on-location shooting, respectively, in the Austrian Alps and Salzburg, and in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Boris Leven was inducted into the Art Director's Hall of Fame in 2004.

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