Simple Pleasures

The Vero Beach Museum of Art is pleased to announce the exhibition Simple Pleasures: The Art of Doris Lee, which will travel to one additional venue as part of a four museum national exhibition tour. Barbara L. Jones, Curator Emerita, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, and Melissa Wolfe, Curator of American Art, Saint Louis Art Museum, co-curated the exhibition.

Doris Lee, (American, 1904-1983) The View, Woodstock, 1946, Oil on Canvas, 27 ½ x 44 inches, The John and Susan Horseman Collection of American Art © Estate of Doris Lee, Courtesy D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc.


Simple Pleasures: The Art of Doris Lee features 74 of the most notable and compelling works of art by Doris Lee (1905-1983). Using a vibrant color palette, Lee sparks feelings of playfulness and humor in her paintings, drawings, prints, and commissioned commercial designs for fabric and pottery. Simple Pleasures includes works by the artist spanning from the 1930s through the 1960s from both public and private collections and gives overdue recognition to Lee's significant contributions to American art. A selection of ephemera, such as product advertisements for the American Tobacco Company and General Foods who commissioned paintings from Lee, will also be included in the exhibition.


"I was thrilled to be co-curator with my colleague Melissa Wolfe of this important exhibition on the life's work of Doris Lee. I have admired her work for many, many years and through my research, found her tenacity as an artist inspiring. She found the humor in life and the joy she took in recreating those simple pleasures is revealed in her paintings, prints and commercial commissions. I hope that all visitors will experience that through her work," says Jones.


Doris Lee, (American, 1904-1983) Two Cats, c.1955 Oil on Canvas, 31 ¼ x 28 inches, Collection: Kathleen S. O’Gara © Estate of Doris Lee, Courtesy D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc.

Wolfe explains, "Reconsidering the art of Doris Lee allows us to realize the often over-looked complexities of the American art world during the heyday of Abstract Expressionism. Lee is an exemplar of how many leading female and figurative artists found outlets to produce extraordinary works of art that challenge the artists' marginalization both in their day and often still today. Lee's mastery in both the commercial and the fine art worlds reflects the remarkable breadth of her abilities."


Known as one of the foremost American artists during the 1930s and 1940s, Lee was a leading figure in the Woodstock Artist's Colony. Decades after World War II, Lee responded to the rise of Abstract Expressionism with skill and agility and her own sense of grace, developing her own visual style. By taking a modernist approach and using clean, abstract lines, Lee's body of work merges the reduction of abstraction with the appeal of the everyday and offers a coherent visual identity that successfully bridged various artistic "camps" that arose in the post-World War II era, truly depicting scenes of the simple pleasures of everyday life.


"We are thrilled to have so many works by Doris Lee on display this summer in Vero Beach. As a sophisticated artist, she was inspired by Grandma Moses and Milton Avery and beyond and developed her own unique fusion style. We love her connection with Florida, where she wintered, taught numerous courses, and eventually settled,"

commented VBMA Senior Curator Anke Van Wagenberg.


VBMA will present a full slate of related programming, including Art Talks in the gallery, studio art classes, and artmaking projects for families. For more information and to register for programs, please visit the website www.vbmuseum.org and call (772) 231-0707 ext. 136. A 240-page fully illustrated, full-color catalogue accompanies the exhibition and includes four essays that provide an intriguing exploration of Lee's life and comprehensive body of work, paying respect to her ability to conjure joy in life's simple pleasures and erasing the idea that her art was too unserious to be taken seriously. The catalogue is available for sale now in the Museum Store.


The exhibition will travel nationally to one additional venue after appearing at the Vero Beach Museum of Art: Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, TN (October 30, 2022 – January 15, 2023)


Simple Pleasures: The Art of Doris Lee is generously supported by The Henry Luce Foundation, The Barrie A. and Deedee Wigmore Foundation, The Richard C. von Hess Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Fine Foundation, and the Hillman Exhibition Fund of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art.


The Vero Beach Museum of Art is located at 3001 Riverside Park Drive, Vero Beach,