Dave Lefner – An Old Soul’s Hommage to Mid-Century Americana
Dave Lefner, a self-described old soul, creates nostalgic linocut prints to pay homage to mid-century design and American craftsmanship. Drawing inspiration from Picasso’s reduction linocuts from the 1950s and Stuart Davis’ vibrant proto-pop interpretations of NYC in the 1920s, his works offer an uplifted reminder of when American design held sway.
Early Life and Education
Dave Lefner is a contemporary artist who primarily utilizes reduction linocut as his medium. His vibrant artwork captures the optimism of mid-20th Century Americana in all of its vibrant glory.
He draws inspiration from Southern California’s unique architecture, urban landscape and car culture. Combining his love of sign painting with an obsession for cars has resulted in vibrant prints with intricate details.
He takes photographs of signs and cars on the road, projects them with an opaque projector to make a drawing, then flips and rubs them onto a block of linoleum to transfer the image. His skills have been recognized by both Pasadena Museum of California Art and Le Muse de l’imprimerie de Nantes in France for their exceptional quality – no surprise his artwork has been showcased there too!
Dave Lefner has been creating reduction linocut prints for 25 years, a laborious yet rewarding process that requires both patience and skill.
He draws inspiration from neon signs, vintage cars and unique storefronts along the Left Coast. His detailed prints capture a time when Americans were optimistic and the sky was the limit.
He photographs the signs he wants to print at dawn and dusk, when shadows are at their longest, then creates a charcoal drawing from that. He then flips and rubs the drawing onto a block of linoleum in order to transfer the image.
Achievements and Honors
Los Angeles artist Dave Lefner has perfected the labor-intensive art of reduction linocuts. He enjoys spending hours carving away small sections of linoleum to produce intricate prints of iconic mid-century signage, cars and American life in general.
Lefner’s most recent series features neon signs, classic cars and other remnants from his hometown in the San Fernando Valley. He takes on the abstract as well, selecting one small section of a sign or car and zooming in so closely that it becomes almost unrecognizable, then enlarging it for an amazingly realistic print.
Lefner has always been fascinated with the technical challenges of linocut-making and has never been afraid to experiment. Recently, he acquired a massive vintage printing press for his collection of machines.
Dave lefner’s meticulous linocut prints capture a nostalgic vision of an earlier time through both method and subject. Drawing inspiration from Picasso’s reduction linocuts and Stuart Davis’ colorful proto-pop interpretations of New York City in the 1920s, his artwork pays homage to mid-century signage, cars and American life while reinventing them for contemporary audiences.
To create his linocuts, he photographs neon signs on historic liquor stores, restaurants and hotels in downtown Los Angeles at dawn and dusk when shadows are at their longest. After taking a charcoal drawing over, he rubs it onto a block of linoleum to transfer the image.