National Museum of Women in the Arts
Doris Lee
February 01 1905 - June 16 1983
Photograph of Doris Lee, ca. 1950, by Roy Stevens, New York, NY, USA. National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, USA. Library and Research Center Special Collections
Place of Birth:
Phonetic Spelling:
DOHR-iss lee
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Books and manuscripts, Drawings and prints, Painting
Artistic Role(s):
Designer, Illustrator, Lithographer, Muralist, Painter, Serigrapher
American Regionalism
Artist's Biography:
Throughout her career, Doris Lee sought to portray the everyday of contemporary American life in a language that the ordinary viewer could understand. When Lee received the prestigious Frank G. Logan award from the Art Institute of Chicago for her painting Thanksgiving (1935), it triggered a campaign against such 'degenerate' styles in art. Despite the strong opposition, Lee’s art found many supporters and followers during her career.

Lee was born in Aledo, Illinois, in 1905. She attended Rockford College in Rockford, IL and upon her graduation married Russell Werner Lee with whom she traveled to Italy and France from 1927 to 1928. Returning to the United States, Lee enrolled at the Kansas City Arts Institute in the class of American Impressionist Earnest Lawson, but a year later returned to France to study in the studio of Cubist painter André Lhote in Paris.

In 1930, Lee studied with Arnold Blanch at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco and in 1936 she was commissioned for two murals for the General Post Office in Washington, DC as part of the WPA program.

Lee’s career was capped by honors and her art was exhibited and purchased by major American museums. She also worked as a magazine and book illustrator, and taught painting at the Universities of Honolulu and Michigan.

Other Occupation(s):
Author, Teacher, Traveler
Place(s) of Residence:
Key West
Where Trained/Schools:
California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA, USA (1930-1931) Private lessons, Paris, France (1929) Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO, USA (1928) Rockford College, Rockford, IL, USA (1927)
Related Visual Artists:
wife of Russell Werner Lee wife and student of Arnold Blanch collaborated with Arnold Blanch student of Earnest Lawson student of André Lhote friend of Milton Avery
Fellowships, grants and awards:
First Prize, Art-in-Science Exhibition, Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany, NY, USA (1966) Gold Medal, Art Directors’ Club, New York, NY, USA (1957) The Frank G. Logan Purchase Prize, American Artists Annual Exhibition, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA (1935)
Earliest exhibition:
First Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, USA (1932)
NMWA exhibition(s):
American Women Artists: 1830-1930
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997
Women Artists of the New Deal Era: A Selection of Prints and Drawings
Four Centuries of Women's Art: The National Museum of Women in the Arts
Artist retrospective(s):
Doris Lee (1905-1983): Form and Color, D. Wigmore Fine Arts, Inc., New York, NY, USA (2004) Doris Lee: 1905-1983, Woodstock Artists Association, Woodstock, NY, USA (1984)
Related places
Clearwater (died at)
Cherries in the Sun (Siesta)
Untitled (Fruit)