Next in our Artist Spotlight series is FP Contemporary artist Tom Lieber. This is a telling of the beginning of an outstanding art career, one that most artists can only dream of…
Tom, who is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, moved to Berkeley, California in 1975 after finishing his BFA and MFA at the University of Illinois. Tom’s career took off in 1982 when a woman named Diane Waldman traveled to California. At the time, Diane was the deputy director at the Guggenheim Museum NY (Tom said she was known as a “radical curator”). She was traveling the country in search of young artists she thought would be the next generation of talented emerging artists (see the link below to read the NY Times article about the exhibition). While at another artist’s studio, Diane saw a book featuring twenty young painters, including Tom, from the Bay Area. I think he said he was in the black and white section near the back of the book, but he was the only artist she found interesting. Tom said she quickly identified that his paintings were structurally sound and she “got” them. Diane’s search culminated with an exhibition at the Guggenheim featuring Tom and ten other artists in 1983. The Guggenheim purchased two of Tom’s paintings, one in 1983 and another in 1985.
John Berggruen was (and is) a very established art dealer in San Francisco. At the time, he only represented well known artists like Frank Stella and Helen Frankenthaler, but when he heard about the buzz around Tom, he went to Berkeley to visit Tom’s studio. He signed him and Tom became the first emerging artist John had ever represented. This launched Tom again. Next thing Tom knew, The Metropolitan Museum NY purchased a painting from the “Crocodile Period” from Berggruen and Tom was like “what the heck is going on?” Some artists fight their entire career to be “discovered” and never have a chance to grab that brass ring. Things began to really happen for him and his career. Marty Margulies, who is a huge collector based in Miami and collects the likes of Picasso, Rothko, etc., fell in love with Tom’s paintings and has seven of them in his collection. Marty eventually had to create a museum to house his works and it is located in the Wynwood art district in Miami (it is rumored that the collection is worth just shy of one billion dollars). Most of Tom’s paintings are in Marty’s private collection.
Over time, other collectors who owned and loved Tom’s paintings, but ran out of room in their own homes, began donating/bequeathing works to MOCA Los Angeles, SFMOMA, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Tate Modern in London, etc.
Attached is a link to the NY Times article written about Tom’s first Guggenheim exhibition:
A book is being written about Tom and his paintings, including this exciting period in Tom’s life when his career skyrocketed. Tom Lieber currently lives and paints between Los Angeles and Kauai. His recent paintings are heavily influenced by the environment in Hawaii.
From September through late October 2017, Tom will be showcasing his retrospective solo exhibition, “1977 Onward”, which showcases paintings from various points of his life, at FP Contemporary.