Leah Durner’s painting occupies the critical space between modernism and postmodernism—between postwar abstraction and later conceptualism and pop. Her output includes works in oil, acrylic, and gouache on canvas and on paper as well as works in poured enamel.
Durner has had solo exhibitions of her work at Loretta Howard Gallery, 571 Projects, Nye Basham Studio, Wooster Arts Space, Berry College, and Limbo. Durner’s work has been included in group exhibitions in New York and throughout the United States. Durner was an artist-in-residence at the Leighton Studios, Banff Centre for the Arts and a visiting artist at The American Academy in Rome. Durner’s work is in the collections of the Portland Museum of Art and Wake Forest University Art Collections.
Durner's current theoretical focus is on extravagance, the term she uses for a constellation of concerns—including largesse, beauty, joy, color, and incarnated consciousness —that is of central theoretical interest for her. In addition to her work as an artist, Durner has curated exhibitions, published art theory, and lectured and written on a number of topics.
Critics and scholars who have written on Durner’s work include: Jorella Andrews (Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London; David Cohen (critic and artcritical.com publisher); Michael Sanders (philosopher), and John Yau (poet and critic).
In 2018 Bloomsbury Press published The Question of Painting: Rethinking Thought with Merleau-Ponty by Jorella Andrews in which Durner's work is discussed along with that with other historic and contemporary artists in relation to contemporary painting. Durner's painting, Rousseau 2006, is the book's cover image.
In 2020, Painting, Largesse, and Life: A Conversation with Leah Durner, an intensive conversation between Dr. Andrews and Durner on her oeuvre from the period 1983-2018 and its relation to practices and histories of painting and Merleau-Ponty's philosophy will appear as a companion to The Question of Painting.
Durner received her B.A. from Wake Forest University and her M.F.A. from Rutgers University where she studied art theory with Martha Rosler, performance with Geoff Hendricks, and painting with Leon Golub. She also studied with Gary Kuehn, Bob Watts, Joan Semmel, and Hal Foster.