Babes, Bars, Beaches, and Black Velvet Art
Labeled "Leeteg the Legend" by James Michener and Often Called the "American Gauguin"
Edgar Leeteg was the father of black velvet art and the genesis of a genre continuing today with the tiki and Polynesian pop art movement, nearly 70 years later.
Describing himself as a "fornicating, gin-soaked, dope-head," Leeteg took on the elite of the art establishment of Honolulu Academy of Arts in 1938 and shamed them in the press. Always the shrewd promoter and a creative genius, Edgar Leeteg possessed many titles, astounding fans and antagonizing critics. His insatiable lust for life led the author James Michener to label him "Leeteg the Legend" in his book, Rascals in Paradise (1957).
This is a biography of the artist Leeteg, who left California in 1933 bound for the South Pacific. His home in Tahiti allowed him to paint nudes, drink, and party with sensual vahines from the beaches to the bars of Tahiti.
He was a wealthy artist and legend in his lifetime, a goal few can achieve.
"Cook's work is entertaining and knowledgeable. The breadth of its featured cast, quotes, and remembrances make this biography lively. Tahiti, its people, roistering ex-pats, and luminous landscapes vibrate like personal memories. Leeteg's landscapes appear alongside Paul Gauguin's, questions the fine and arbitrary line that separates "popular" art from work acclaimed "great." —Foreword Reviews