David Lebe

Archival Pigment Prints

These photograms were made and hand colored in the 70's and 80's.

The originals were scanned and reprinted in an edition of 15 in 2011.


In a series of hand-painted photograms, Lebe has arranged flowers, leaves, seedlings and other specimens into a constructed landscape of sorts; floating in the middle of some vast celestial sky, or growing from the earth against a background of soft pink clouds.

Photograms are a cameraless photograph made by placing objects directly on or just above light sensitive material and then exposing the light sensitive material to light. The shadows of the objects create the white areas. The black areas are where the light struck the light sensitive material enough to fully expose it. By using objects that let only some light reach the light sensitive material grays are created. What results is, essentially, a large negative. What was light is dark and what was in shadow is light.

Lebe made these photograms on silver photographic paper. In some cases he contact printed the original negative photograms to reverse their tones. The images with a predominately black ground are the negatives and the ones with predominately light ground are the positives. Lebe then hand painted these prints with water color.

Vegetable series

Scribble series

Black and White Light Drawings & Photographs

Hand-painted Light Drawings & Photographs


David Lebe enrolled at the Philadelphia College of Art in 1966 and attended classes led by Ray K. Metzker and Barbara Blondeau, artistic descendants of the Bauhaus movement, whom he considers mentors. He also taught photography at the school for fourteen years. He thought of becoming a photojournalist but found that it was not an adequate outlet for his creativity.

While in school he developed a passion for pinhole photography. It eliminated the single “decisive moment” of a photograph and the image became instead, the decisive twenty minutes or more. With that amount of latitude he could jump into the photos himself. As Lebe says, “I learned that a photograph could be a whole event.” He next began experimenting with “light drawings”. To create these pieces he puts a camera on a tripod in a darkened room and walks in front of it drawing or outlining an image with a flashlight. Sometimes he adds another light source; sometimes body parts (usually hands) drift through images. He views his light drawings as his most spiritual pictures. He feels that this process of using light depicts the energy that occurs between our bodies and the world. Some of the images are surrounded by whimsical spirals of light which are reminiscent of the swirling sky in Van Gogh’s Starry Night. In these images he has created art that is ethereal, playful and life affirming.

For more information:

Click here to read an interview between David Lebe and Richard Kagan

One Person Exhibitions 2009 “Flora: Selections From 30 Years of Work, Mednick Gallery, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA 1999 “David Lebe”, Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson, NY 1988 “Selected Images”, Janvier Gallery, University of Delaware, Newark, DE. “New Work”, McNeill Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago, IL. 1987 XYZ Gallery, Ghent, Belgium. 1986 “Truth Fantasy: David Lebe Photographs”, Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, MD. 1985 Mednick Gallery, Philadelphia College of Art, Philadelphia, PA. Vanguard Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. Russel Sage Gallery, Troy, NY. “Light Drawings and Painted Photograms”, Marcuse Pfeifer Gallery, New York, NY. 1982 “Light Drawings and Painted Photograms”, Paul Cava Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. 1977 The Print Club, Philadelphia, PA. 1973 The Greenhouse Gallery, Millbrook, NY. Selected Group Exhibitions 2009-10 “Common Ground: Eight Philadelphia Photographers in the 1960s and 70s, Philadelphia Museum of Art 2009 “Afterglow: Four Photographers + the Hand-Held Light” Robert Flynt, , Warren Neidrich, Gary Schneider, Carrie Haddad Photographs, Hudson, NY 2009 “Other Nature”, Carrie Haddad Photographs, Hudson, NY “Paradoxes of Modernism”, Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery, Baltimore, MD. 2005 “The Silver Garden”, Philadelphia Museum of Art 2002 “Hometown: Philadelphia-area Photographers in the photo Review”, Exhibit 231 Gallery. 2002 “Lightstruck”, Emerge Gallery, Greenville, NC. 2002 “PHOTOS”, Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson NY. 2000 “Male Nudes”, Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson NY. 1998 “Wessel + O’Conner Gallery, New York, NY. 1995 “The Nude: Beyond the Studio”, The Philadelphia Art Alliance. 1994 “David Lebe, Jock Sturges, Susan Fenton, Anne McDonald”, Paul Cava Gallery, Phila., PA. “Scott O’Hara: Portraits, Nudes & Hard Dick Images”, Mark I. Chester Studio, San Francisco, CA. “Go Figure”, Paul Cava Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. 1993 “Flora Photographica”, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC The New York Public Library, New York, NY The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario Musee des Beaux Arts de Montreal, Montreal, Ontario. “Photographs from a Private Collection”, Hopkins House Galley, NJ. “Fronts and Backs”, Paul Cava Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. “The Alternative Eye”, Alleghenies Museum of Art, Loretto, PA. 1991 “Sexart”, Mark I. Chester’s Folsom Gallery, San Francisco, Ca. “The Figure Exposed: 4 Photographers”, Paul Cava Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. 1990/91 “Selections from the Graham and Susan Nash Collection”, Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 1990 “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Artspace, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI. "Personal/Political:Sexuality Self-defined”, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. “Contemporary Philadelphia Artists”, Philadelphia Museum of Art. “Identities, Portraiture in Contemporary Photography”, Philadelphia Art Alliance. “New Directions in Photography; Sue Abramson, Norinne Betjemann, Susan Fenton, David Lebe”, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA. “Gallery Artists”, Paul Cava Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. 1989 “Fictive Strategies”, The Squibb Gallery, Princeton College, Princeton, NJ. “Hard Choices & Just Rewards”, Levy Gallery, Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, PA. Johnstown Art Museum, Johnstown, PA Blair Art Museum, Hollidaysburg, PA “Positive I.D.”, Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Loretto, PA. “Night Light, 20th Century Night Photography”, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. 1988/89 “Through a Pinhole Darkly”, Fine Arts Museum of Long Island, Hempstead, NY Roanoke Museum of Fine Arts, Roanoke, VA De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, Netherlands Photographie D’Ile de France, Paris, France. 1988 “Hothouse”, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI. 1986 “Poetic Injury: The Surrealist Legacy in Post Modern Photography”, Alternative Museum, New York, NY. “Compassion”, Vanguard Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. “Stalking the Light”, Noyes Museum, Oceanville, NJ. 1986/87 “Philadelphia Photographers International, Cigna Corporation, Philadelphia, PA Free Library of Philadelphia, PA Tianjin Fine Arts College, Tianjin, People’s Republic of China. 1987 “Hand Altered Photography”, Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, TX. “Mutual Respect”, Vanguard House, Philadelphia, PA. 1985/86 “The Visionary Pinhole”, Images Gallery, Cincinnati, OH University Gallery of Fine Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. “Artists for Pride”, Philadelphia Lesbian and Gay Task Force, Philadelphia, PA. 1985 “New Artists, New Works”, Marianne Deson Gallery, Chicago, IL. “Photograms”, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI. 1984 “Lebe, Phillips, Salzmann, Young: Photographs of the Figure”, Schumaker Hall Art Gallery, Gettysburg College, Gettysberg, PA. “Painted Photographs:, Marcuse Pfeifer Gallery, New York, NY. “Hand Colored Photography”, Jayne H. Baum Gallery, New York, NY. “Contemporary Philadelphia Photographers”, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA. “Radical Photography”, Nexus Gallery, Atlanta, GA. 1983 “Nudes!”, Marcuse Pfeifer Gallery, New York, NY. 1983/84 “Lensless Photography” The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA The IBM Gallery, New York, NY. 1983 “Pennsylvania Photographers III”, Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, PA. “Handmade Camera: Contemporary images” Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Elkins Park, PA. 1981 Daniel Wolf Gallery, New York, NY. 1980 “Made in Philadelphia 5”, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. 1979 “Cross References: The Photograph As A Point Of Departure, The Sol Mednick Gallery, The Philadelphia College of Art, Philadelphia, PA. 1976 “The Hand Colored Photograph”, Philadelphia College of Art Gallery. 1975 “Seven Photographers Seventy Five”, Hahn Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. Collections Philadelphia Museum of Art Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, PA J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, MD Haverford College, Haverford, PA FIUWAC – Free University World Art Collection, Amsterdam, NL Polaroid Corporation, Cambridge, MA First National Bank of Chicago Tokyo Marine and Fire Corporation Bell Atlantic, Philadelphia, PA Dechert, Price & Rhoads, Philadelphia, PA Sidley & Austin, Chicago, IL Graham and Susan Nash, Los Angeles, CA Miller/Plummer, Philadelphia, PA Henry S. McNeil Jr., Philadelphia, PA Hope Proper, Moorestown, NJ One Person Catalogs Truth Fantasy: David Lebe Photographs, 16 page catalog, Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, MD, 1987. Catalogs and Books New York Nocturne, The City After Dark in Literature, Painting, and Photography, 1850 -1950 book, William Chapman Sharp, Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford, 2008 Le Sténopé, De La Photographie Sans Objectif, book, Jean-Michel Gallery et Elisabeth Towns, PhotoPoche – Actes Sud, 2007 The Polaroid Book: Selections From The Polorid Collection of Photography, book, edited: Steve Crist, forward: Barbara Hitchcock, Taschen, Koln, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Paris, Tokyo, 2005. Photo Sex, book, edited: David Steinberg, foreword: A. D. Colman, Down There Press, San Francisco, 2003. The Male Nude Now, book, David Leddick, Universe/Rizzoli, New York, 2001. Love and Desire, book, William A. Ewing, Chronicle Books, 1999 Pinhole Photography, book, Eric Renner, Focal Press, Newton, MA., 1995. The Homoerotic Photograph: Male Images from Durieu/Delacroix to Mapplethorpe, book, Allen Ellenzweig, Columbia University Press, New York, 1992. Flora Photographica, book, William A. Ewing, Thames & Hudson, London; Simon & Schuster, New York; Velo, Paris; SDU, Amsterdam, 1991. Fully Exposed: The Male Nude in Photography, book, Emmanual Cooper, Unwin Hyman, London, Sidney, Wellington, 1990. Photographic Possibilities, book, Robert Hirsch, Focal Press, 1990 & 2008. Contemporary Philadelphia Artists, book, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1990. Identities: Portraiture in Contemporary Photography, catalog, Philadelphia Art Alliance. Searching Out the Best, book, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1988. Exploring Color Photography, book, Robert Hirsh, Wm. Brown,1988 Through a Pinhole Darkly, catalog, Fine Arts Museum of Long Island, Hempstead, NY, 1988. Photography, Art & Technique, book, Alfred A. Blaker, Focal Press, 1988. Poetic Injury, catalog, G. Roger Denson, Rosalind Kraues, and Suzan Boettger, The Alternative Museum, New York, NY, 1987. Stalking the Light, catalog, The Noyes Museum, Oceanville, NJ, 1987. The Visionary Pinhole, book, Lauren Smith, six reproductions and cover, Peregrine Smith Books, Gibbs M. Smith, Inc., Layton, Utah, 1985. The ICP Encyclopedia of Photography, p. C-51, Pound Press, Crown Publishing, NY, 1984. Affects/Effects, catalog, Philadelphia College of Art, 1983. Radical Photography, The Bizarre Image, catalog, Nexus Press, Atlanta, GA, 1984. Made in Philadelphia 5, catalog, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 1980. Broad Spectrum, catalog, Philadelphia College of Art, 1980. Selected Articles and Reviews Photography Quarterly # 92, of the Center for Photography at Woodstock, 5 images from “Morning Ritual”, 2006 A & U Magazine, cover story on Scott O’Hara and ‘Gallery Section’ portfolio of “Morning Ritual” pictures, November,1997. Photo Review, “An Interview with David Lebe”, Richard Kagan, Vol. 18, No. 2, 1995. Euros, “David Lebe”, Portfolio and article, Don H. Mader, No. 25, 1995. Pinhole Journal, “David Lebe’, interview and portfolio, Richard Kagan, whole issue, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1995 Libido, portfolio with introduction by Bernard Welt, Chicago, 1989. Pinhole Journal, “Portrait and Self”, Eric Renner, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1989. Pinhole Journal, “Landscape and Metaphor”, Eric Renner, Vol. 4, No. 3, 1988. Ten-8, “Homoseuxalities, Part One, USA”, Sunil Gupta, Birmingham, England, Vol. 31, Winter, 1988. Chicago Tribune, “David Lebe”, article and review, Larry Thall, May 27, 1988. Darkroom Photography, “Looking Back”, February 1988. The Baltimore Evening Sun, column, Bonnie Schupp, March 27, 1986. Arts Magazine, “David Lebe”, Thomas Gartside, October, 1985. Darkroom Photography, “Open to Light: The Photography of David Lebe”, Janis Bultman, Vol. 6, No. 2, March/April 1984. ARTnews, review, December 1984. Darkroom Photography, “Final Frame”, Vol. 5, No. 8, 1983. Camera Arts, “Photography’s Alter Ego”, Charles Hagan, Vol. 3, No. 5, 1983. The New Art Examiner, article, December, 1983. The Advocate, a portfolio of light drawings, issue 347, 1982. Philadelphia Photo Review, Vol. 5, Nos. 2 and 3, 1981. Today Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pinhole Photographs, Nov. 11, 1973. Lectures University of Delaware, Newark, DE, 1988. Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago, IL, 1988. Philadelphia College of Art, 1987. University of Maryland, Baltimore County Campus, Progressive Series, MD, 1986. Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA, 1984. Society for Photographic Education, Mid-Atlantic Conference, Baltimore, MD, 1983. Philadelphia College of Art, 1982. Chillmark Photo Workshop, Martha’s Vineyard, MA, 1980. Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, 1979. Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, 1978. Panelist, The Philadelphia College of Art Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, 1978. Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, PA, 1974, 1973. Glassboro State College, Glassboro, NJ, 1973. Posters and Miscellany Lensless Photography, poster, The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA, 1983. David Lebe, poster, Cava Editions, Philadelphia, PA, 1981. Spring Emphasis, poster, INA Inc., Philadelphia, PA, 1981 (“Best of Show” Award, Philadelphia Art Directors Club, 1982). Seven Photographers Seventy Five, Hahn Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, 1975. Co-Editor, Barbara Blondeau, 1938-1974, Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY and the Philadelphia College of Art, 1976. Grants Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Visual Artist Fellowship, 1989. Teaching Experience Adjunct Associate Professor of Photography, University of the Arts (formerly Philadelphia College of Art), 1986-90 Instructor of Photography, Philadelphia College of Art, 1972-1985. Coordinator of the Photography Certificate Program, Continuing Studies Department, The Philadelphia College of Art, 1978-1982. Education and Personal Data The Philadelphia College of Art, Philadelphia, PA, 1966-1970. High School of Music and Art, New York, NY, 1962-1966. Born New York City, March 23, 1948. Past Gallery Representation Paul Cava Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. Marcuse Pfeifer Gallery, New York, NY. Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago, IL. Vanguard Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. The Vantage Gallery, Amsterdam, NL Current Gallery Representation. Carrie Haddad Photographs, Hudson, NY