R. LeRoy Turner
American, 1905 - 1957
Signed Turner lower right
R. Leroy Turner is known for his vibrant Modern abstractions completed from the late 1920s through the early 1950s. His artwork emphasizes a lyrical form of Cubism, often inspired by visual interpretations of classical music. Many of his compositions are titled after specific pieces of music, and frequently they include themes of melodic symbols, devices and musical scores.
Born in Sherwood, ND in 1905, Turner spent much of his childhood living in Minnesota. In Minneapolis, LeRoy Turner studied painting at the University of Minnesota with artists Cameron Booth and Edmund
Kinzinger. He became highly influenced by the artwork of Picasso, Braque, Juan Gris, and Klee. In 1928 he traveled to Europe to further his art studies in Munich and Paris. There he continued his association with both instructors Booth and Kinzinger. Returning to the United States, Turner joined the faculty of the St. Paul School of Art in St Paul, MN, where he became a painting instructor from 1933 to 1936. In 1935, to favored reviews, Turner exhibited his abstract paintings at a one-man show at the Nash ConIey Galleries in Minneapolis.
In 1936, Turner and fellow artist Alexander Corazzo joined the prestigious avant-garde European painting group Abstraction Création. This loose-knit but influential organization of painters andsculptors, which included Piet Mondrian, Jean Arp and Albert Gleizes, among others, promoted the aesthetic concepts of geometric abstract painting. Their emphasis was a painting style of formal purity, line, color and non-objectivity. Turner and Corrazo were two of the very selected few American artists accepted into the group, which also included Alexander Calder and Robert Carl Holty. Turner exhibited two paintings with Abstraction-Création in 1936, where he showed under the single name “Leroy”.
Leroy Turner suffered from chronic poor health. While many of his colleagues and contemporaries, such as Corazzo or Calder, continued to exhibit and travel extensively, Turner returned to Minneapolis to become a full-time painting instructor. From 1936-1948 Tuner taught at the University of Minnesota. During the years of the Second World War, from 1940-1942, he became an Assistant Director at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Later in his life he was a painting and sculpture instructor at the Stillwater Art Colony from 1938-1950. Turner died in 1957 in Stillwater, MN at the age of 52.