Skip to main content

Don Eddy and Leigh Behnke papers, 1966-2009

Biographical Note

Don Eddy (b. 1944) and Leigh Behnke (b. 1946) are realist painters in New York City. They are married and both teach at the School of Visual Arts. Eddy is one of the thirteen original Photorealists.
Don Eddy was born in Long Beach, California. From around age ten until he left home to attend college, he worked at his father's auto body shop and became proficient in airbrush technique and color matching paint. Eddy studied with Jean Charlot at the University of Hawaii (B.F.A. 1967, M.F.A. 1969). His early paintings employed pictorial illusion and their subject matter came from material culture; part-time work as a tourist photographer in Honolulu prompted him to experiment with and think deeply about photography, leading him to the style that would come to be known as Photorealism. He was first recognized for paintings of automobiles done in acrylic using the spray technique learned at the auto body shop. From the 1970s and well into the next decade, Eddy's work was object oriented. Later, he produced "dream" paintings that included details from Old Master paintings, floating objects that introduced psychological elements and perceptual challenges. Over the next decade he simplified his imagery by pursuing still life and nature painting with complex, layered surfaces. Using photographs he takes himself as source material, Eddy continues to paint urban and nature scenes and has developed elaborate procedures for underpainting and overpainting. He teaches at the School of Visual Arts and is represented by Nancy Hoffman Gallery, New York.
Leigh Behnke, a native of Hartford, Connecticut, moved to New York City to attend Pratt Institute (B.F.A. 1969) and later studied at New York University (M.A. 1976). Behnke paints in oil and watercolor using her own photographs and digital images as source material. Interests in architecture, interiors, history, memory, nature, and scientific concepts are reflected in her work. She combines images and employs multi panels (diptych and polyptych) as a device for focusing on perception and pictorial space, commenting on images, and redefining subjects from other vantage points. Behnke has taught at the School of Visual Arts since 1979. She is represented by Fischbach Gallery, New York, and Plus One Gallery, London.