Artist, Author, Educator, Entertainer, Civil Rights Activist
From the 1930’s to the 1980’s, Lenn fascinated audiences with his unique and creative impressions. Lenn created more than 200,000 caricatures of people from life, as well as thousands of other pieces of art. Few artists have created the quantity or quality of artwork Lenn produced. Truly a legend in his field!
The Early Years - Growing up in Chicago
Lenn was born in 1912 in Chicago IL. His parents, Victor Redman and Sarah Brooks Redman immigrated to the United States from Kiev Russia. Victor owned a clothing store on the near north side of Chicago and the family lived nearby on Cornelia Avenue. Lenn went to Trumbull Elementary and Senn High School where he was on the newspaper staff and entertained his fellow students with his cartoons and caricatures. Lenn was a natural talent though he enhanced his artistic abilities by studying at the Chicago Acadamy of Fine Arts and the American Academy of Arts in New York.
The Golden Age of Animation
It’s no surprise Lenn’s extraordinary skills led him to the field of Animation. In the 1930’s, Lenn traveled to Los Angeles where he and fellow animators worked on such legendary works as Fantasia for Walt Disney, Porky Pig for Leon Schlessinger as well as numerous other Hollywood animated short cartoons made for theatre viewing.
Lenn actually began his long, fruitful career as a caricaturist at age 21 when the 1933 ‘Century of Progress’, Chicago’s own Worlds Fair, drew him to the Artist Colony, a stage for him to display his talent. His work was very popular and he gained huge recognition. Lenn enjoyed the 1933 World’s Fair so much that he leaves LA and travels to New York to again set up shop drawing caricatures in the artist colony at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
The Lenn Redman Commercial Art Studio
After returning from the 1939 Worlds Fair in New York, Lenn opened his own studio in Chicago. Lenn animated products, drew cartoons on photographs, created animals with human-like qualities and delved into some exceptional serious illustrations. Lenn utilized his vast skills from the early days of animation to differentiate himself. Lenn began to create a new form of advertising, humanizing animals and inanimate objects. He produced training slides, films, newspapers, magazines, billboards, post cards, brochures, presentations, trade papers and graphics for television. Lenn quickly became a leading choice for advertising creative and art directors. Lenn’s creations were used by the top companies in America including:
Walgreen Company, Westinghouse Electric Corp., Time, Inc., Saturday Evening Post, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Illinois Tool Works, Sterling Drug Company, Phillips Petroleum Co, Borden Co, Johns-Manville Co, National Tea Co, Motorola Inc., Delta Airlines, Chicago Tribune, Chevrolet Co, Canadian Ace Brewing Co, Gibson Greeting Cards, Knickerbocker Fund, Owens-Corning Fiberglass, Parents Magazine, Reuben H. Donnelley Corp, United Auto Workers
Portrait Artist, Caricaturist and Entertainer
Lenn created exceptional oils, pastels and acrylics artwork. It didn’t come as naturally as caricaturing, but when he worked in other mediums, the results were always brilliant. An abstract painting of the Harry James Orchestra and oil painting of Albert Einstein are just two of the outstanding pieces in the collection.
Lenn specialized in clever renditions of celebrities and public figures and he drew thousands of these images. But drawing everyday people was his passion. He loved to entertain and make people smile. Lenn was hugely popular as a live artist/performer. In front of captivated crowds, he would bring personalities to life by drawing grease penciled caricatures on clear acetate on a light machine and projecting the images onto a large screen for audiences to enjoy. Lenn performed often at conventions and trade shows across the country. He was also a club performer, working at such notable night clubs as Chez Paree and others in Las Vegas and most major convention cities across the United States and Europe.
Lenn even performed on radio (yes, radio!) and TV on the ‘You Asked for It’ TV Show. As strange as it may sound, Lenn even drew caricatures on the radio! Lenn was a guest on Jack Eigen’s radio show being broadcast from Chicago’s glamorous Chez Paree. People (unknown to Lenn) would call in and he would sketch their caricatures while speaking to them. Although the conversations were brief, the renderings were uncanny. The whole startling event was documented in a March 9, 1958, article in the Chicago Sunday Tribune Magazine titled, ‘Do You Look Like Your Voice?’
Vietnam War Protester and Muhammad Ali
Lenn attended and chronicled various end the Vietnam war rallies and civil rights events. He corresponded with many end the war personalities. In particular, Lenn and Muhammad Ali shared viewpoints during this time of radical social change in America.
Animating, Authoring, Caricaturing, Educating
Advocating for World Peace
In the 60’s and 70’s, Lenn worked on various Hanna-Barbara and Filmation Associates Saturday Morning Cartoon shows. His credits include Aquaman, Superman, The Archie’s, The Cosby Kids and many more. Lenn's credits during this time period are documented on the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com)
Lenn designed, illustrated and authored, 'How To Draw Caricatures' © 1984 McGraw-Hill (ISBN 978-0-8092-5685-3). This book remains ‘the bible’ of the caricaturing trade and has influenced the work of most every professional and amateur caricaturist since the book was published in 1984.
How to Draw Caricatures is the first book devoted entirely to teaching the art of caricature. It’s filled with hundreds of step-by-step instructions and examples. Photographs of caricatured subjects as well as their finished caricatures are included so that you can see the art in action and learn from Lenn’s insights. How to Draw Caricatures is a unique combination of art, instruction, personal commentary and a bit of caricature history.
Charicaturist - 200,000 caricatures from life!
Lenn won hearts and captivated audience with his poignant caricatures. Lenn enjoyed capturing the unique personalities of everyday people from all walks of life. He drew more than 200,000 caricatures from life. Few other caricaturists created the quantity or quality of this entertaining art genre. Lenn drew thousands of caricatures of movie stars and public figures including:
Ralph Abernathy, Alan Alda, Muhammad Ali, Gracie Allen, Louie Armstrong, James Baldwin, Victor Borge, Carol Burnett, George Burns, Leonid Brezhnev, Dick Cavett, Cher, Jerry Colona, Bill Cosby, Tony Curtis, Sammy Davis Jr., Phyllis Diller, Walt Disney(w/ Mickey), Jimmy Durante, Albert Einstein, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Red Foxx, Clark Gable, Indira Gandhi, Robert Goullet, Shecky Green, Dick Gregory, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Elliot Gould, Valerie Harper, Goldie Hawn, Alfred Hitchcock, Bob Hope, Burl Ives, Shirley Jones, Buster Keeton, Emmett Kelly, John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jack Klugman, Bert Lahr, Chow En-Lai, Sam Levenson, Liberaci, Sophia Loren, The Marx Brothers, Golda Meir, Liza Minnelli, Marilyn Monroe, Caroll O’Connor, Aristotle Onassis, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Jack Parr, Pope John XXIII, William Powell, Elvis Presley, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Edward G. Robinson, John D. Rockefeller, Will Rodgers, Lord Bertrand Russell, Willie Shoemaker, The 3 Stooges, Barbara Streisand, Sally Struthers, Ed Sullivan, Marlo Thomas, Sophie Tucker, Mao Tse Tung, Jimmy Walker, John Wayne, Dutchess of Windsor, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ed Wynn and many, many more!
Lenn's Artist Reference Library
Lenn collected a substantial amount of reference material from the 1930’s-1970’s that he utilized throughout his career. These mid-century collectibles include Vintage Hollywood Celebrity photos, Vintage Magazines and Comics as well as Vintage Art Books. Lenn saved hundreds of 8″x10″ glossy Hollywood movie star pictures, pictures of the industry and pictures as he performed. The collection provides a glimpse into the early years of the caricature and animation industries specifically, and the entertainment industry in general. Vintage pictures include:
Alan Alda, Muhammad Ali, Gracie Allen, Louie Armstrong, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Edgar Bergman, Joey Bishop, Charles Bronson, Carol Burnett, George Burns, Johnny Carson, Cher, Nate King Cole, Bill Cosby, Bing Crosby, Tony Curtis, Lili St Cyr, Sammy Davis Jr., John Daly, Yvonne De Carlo, Phyllis Diller, Walt Disney, Jimmy Durante, Albert Einstein, Red Foxx, Betty Furness, Clark Gable, Jackie Gleason, Elliot Gould, Lee Grant, Valerie Harper, Bob Hope, Shirley Jones, Captain Kangaroo, Danny Kay, George Kennedy, Jack Klugman, Cristopher Lee, Jack Lemmon, Sam Levenson, Jerry Lewis, Ted Lewis, Liberace, Mary Livingston, Sophia Loren, Jane Mansfield, The Marx Brothers, Walter Matthau, Liza Minnelli, Johnny Mize, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Nicholson, Caroll O’Connor, Jack Parr, William Powell, Elvis Presley, Basil Rathbone, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Edward G. Robinson, George C. Scott, Phil Silvers, Frank Sinatra, Red Skelton, Anne Southern, The 3 Stooges, Barbara Streisand, Sally Struther, James Stewart, Ed Sullivan, Shirley Temple, Marlo Thomas, Sophie Tucker, John Wayne, Ed Wynn, Loretta Young, The Road to Bali, Fantasia, Chez Paree Nightclub and many, many more!
Lenn taught at The Art Institute of Chicago and other schools throughout the United States. He had a passion for sharing and teaching his craft. He went on to write a book, ‘How to Draw Caricatures’. This popular publication influenced hundreds of thousands of aspiring artist and is still selling today.
“What Am I?”
A Masterpiece in Diversity Education
© 1980 Mark Victor Publishing
The ‘What Am I?’ series is a group of moving publications based on a poem Lenn published in 1980. The series includes a Fine Art Book, a Children’s Coloring Book and Large Format Color Prints related to the poem’s verses. The series has been digitally imaged and is available in all styles and formats. First edition’s of the book, long out of print, have become collector items. We do have a limited supply available for collectors. Please contact us for details.
In 1982 the National Conference of Christians and Jews selected the poem and ‘The Baby Faces’ print and distributed copies in commemoration of National Brotherhood Week. “Lenn is quite a man”, said Harry Robinson, Executive Director of the National Conference of Christians and Jews in New York. “He shows the kind of commitment we admire. Lenn cares about his fellow man, and that is essentially what we are about".
Civil Rights Activist
Lenn sketched what he saw throughout his life. He was appalled by what was happening in our country in the 1960’s and chronicled the civil rights movement in his personal sketch book. Lenn captured Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Benjamin Spock and others at an ‘End the War in Vietnam’ rally and after Dr. Kings death, Lenn sketched the memorial service held at the LA Coliseum and the Friendship Rally held at the Hollywood Bowl on April 21, 1968.
Lenn captured James Baldwin at a benefit cocktail party where he was the featured speaker and Angela Davis while attending the Rally for Mango Smith at the 8th Street Unitarian Church in Los Angeles in 1973. Global issues were of interest to Lenn as well. He attended a dinner at the 1st Unitarian Church in Los Angeles to listen to agricultural economist Don Luce speak on the tiger cages he exposed in South Vietnam in 1971. While at this dinner, Lenn was also able to capture images of Tom Bradley and Dick Gregory.
Lenn’s final works were of an entirely new art form. Lenn used components of artists’ original masterpieces and incorporated a caricature of the artist himself, all while rendering the images in the artist’s own style. These unusual and highly creative masterpieces are so unique, there’s nothing to compare. This portfolio includes six of Lenn’s favorite European Master Artists; Salvador Dali, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Marc Chigall and Paul Klee. He also included 3 American Master Artists in this series. They are Jackson Pollack, Franz Kline and Stuart Davis.