Woodstock & War Posters

In 1941 Lehman moved to Woodstock, NY and remained there throughout the War.  Initially, he moved to this rural art community to recuperate from a fall from a ladder resulting in breaking both arms. Once he recovered from the accident, he was able to work on the mural commission for the Post Office in Renovo, PA, he got under the Section of Fine Arts.   Working from his small one-room cabin on Maverick Road, between trips back and forth to Renovo, he spent time working on details for the mural that would go on the actual wall. 

From 1942-46 Lehman was very involved with art as a social and political statement.  He became part of the local Woodstock art scene and became good friends with Hervey White, a neighbor that lived down the road.  This bastion away from the city enabled the musicians, writers, actors, painters and sculptors who lived there a chance to get back to nature.  As Tom Wolf states in The Maverick: Hervey White's Colony of the Arts, a biography of the man and this community, 

Hervey White, a writer and idealist whose greatest creation was his colony. 

While living in Woodstock, Lehman created many paintings and constructions, and organized and directed shows along these lines at the Woodstock Art Association Gallery.

With funding removed by the government for public art, the Treasury Department did reach out to artists to support War Bond Drives. Artists were commissioned through the Associated American Artists Gallery in New York. It was through the AAA Gallery that Lehman was hired to do several paintings relating to the War, to support the War Bond Drive. One, The Paratrooper became an iconic poster of the day.  Two others were used as advertisements to support the War Bond Drive. 

In 1942,  a national sponsored with a call to artists to create "fighting posters," was sponsored by Artists for Victor, Council for Democracy, and the Museum of Modern Art.   Within the 3 month deadline, the competition got 2,224 entries.  Out of these 200 of the posters were selected to be exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art.  The posters were categorized under six different themes.  Two posters using the themes, Deliver Us From Evil and This Is the Enemy were chosen for the MOMA show and exhibit, which traveled throughout the country. President Roosevelt congratulated the artists who contributed posters to the competition:

I have seen the report by Artists for Victory on its National War Poster Competition.  It is proof of what can be done by groups whose ordinary occupations might seem far removed from war.  More than two thousand war posters were produced by the artists of the country, not as a chore that they were asked to do, but as a voluntary, spontaneous contribution to the war.  The very name of your organization is symbolic of the determination of every man and woman in every activity of  life throughout the nation to enlist in the cause to which our country is dedicated. 

In 1946, Lehman returned to New York City. He resumed easel painting, sculpture, and photography, and created experimental photographic prints without the use of a camera. Many of these were exhibited in 1947. He also began teaching art from his studio on West 21st Street. 

Next chapter - Scenic Art

Related Images

Hospital Stay. Harold Lehman. 1941.
Hospital Stay. Harold Lehman. 1941.

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Deliver Us From Evil. WWII poster. Harold Lehman
Deliver Us From Evil. WWII poster. Harold Lehman

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Who Me? Multi-media collage. Harold Lehman 1941.
Who Me? Multi-media collage. Harold Lehman 1941.

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Hospital Stay. Harold Lehman. 1941.
Hospital Stay. Harold Lehman. 1941.

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Harold Lehman in his Woodstock cabin on Maverick Road. Details for the Renovo Post Office mural hang on the walls. 

Photo and painting of Hervey White the founder of the Woodstock Maverick Road art colony. Both by Harold Lehman

Man in a Foxhole. 3-D installation by Harold Lehman. Exhibited at the Woodstock Art Association. 1943

Maverick Group.  Artists in the photo include: Marianne Appel (Mecklem), Stuart Edie, Austin Mecklem, Lucile Blanch