Laguna Art Museum Presents Joseph Kleitsch: Abroad and at Home in Old Laguna 

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Joseph Kleitsch, Problematicus, 1918. Oil on canvas, 50×55 inches. The museum loan is courtesy of Thomas B. Stiles II and Barbara Alexander. Image/Laguna Art Museum

Joseph Kleitsch: Abroad and At Home in Old Laguna, is the newest exhibition on offer at the Laguna Art Museum. The exhibit will be available to view from June 24 through Sept. 24 and showcases the work of Joseph Kleitsch, an important California Impressionist painter born in Hungary in 1882. Kleitsch’s artwork vividly captures the energy and beauty of Southern California.

“We cannot wait to welcome guests to this exhibition that touches upon every period of Joseph Kleitsch’s artistic output,” said Julie Perlin Lee, director of Laguna Art Museum. “More than 25 individual and organizational lenders have enthusiastically come together to bring the best of Kleitsch’s artworks together in a showing of sensuous portraits, realistic still lifes and landscape paintings that document the artist’s experimentation and growth from Impressionism to Post-Impressionism. Because of the artist’s ties to Laguna Beach, there is no venue or location more perfect than Laguna Art Museum.”

Kleitsch’s early works consisted of small still-life paintings and, eventually, masterful portraits with which he built his name. In 1920, Kleitsch and his wife Edna settled in Laguna Beach, where he became a member of the Laguna Beach Art Association and began painting landscapes and street scenes. Notably, Kleitsch’s painting, The Old Post Office, depicts a historic view of the town’s first post office, located near present-day Laguna Avenue and Coast Highway.

In 1924, Kleitsch painted several works at the Mission San Juan Capistrano and created two nearly identical views of “downtown” Laguna titled Laguna Road I and Laguna Road II, showing the unpaved Coast Boulevard that was finally paved in 1926. In 1926, Kleitsch sailed to Europe, where he painted in Paris, Normandy, Claude Monet’s home village of Giverny, among other places. He returned to America in 1927 after being away for 22 months.

Despite his untimely death at 49 years old, Kleitsch’s art continues to live on, and his role as a chronicler of old Laguna adds to his standing among the best of California’s artists.

Laguna Art Museum will produce a catalog documenting the historic exhibition, which will be available in the museum store.

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