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Despite a fleeting popularity in the late '60s and early '70s, Jim Leon is largely unheard of today. His powerful work which blends the intensity of much Symbolist art with the sexual concerns of the Surrealists and later Fantastic schools gained prominence via the underground publications that flourished at the end of the 1960s, particularly the most famous (and infamous) British underground, Oz. Unfortunately, we're unable to tell you much more about this artist. The most that's known to date is that he was an Englishman resident in France from the 1970s onwards. Whether he has produced much more of this kind of work, or is still active today, is unknown. Anyone with further information is encouraged to contact Savoy.

The black and white pictures here were reproduced in the David Britton-edited portfolio featured in Wordworks 7(1976) (also in the later anthology, The Savoy Book). Most of the pictures were printed in Oz. The colour picture is a centre-spread from a large-format Oz, no 45, November 1972.

Pictures © Jim Leon

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Update February 2001:

Shortly after this page appeared we received a message from Neville Fridge who knew Leon during the 1970s. One of his photos of the artist at this time is reproduced here with his permission.


Jim Leon (right) at dinner with Austrian classical guitarist Otto Rehm, Roussillon (Vaucluse), France, 1973/74.

Photo © Neville Fridge



Update April 2001:

New Leon drawing discovered (bottom right). Another from his Psychopathia Sexualis series, this one appeared in IT, 1970.

Update June 2001:

We have recently been contacted by Jim Overbeck, Dennis Leon and Jean West who tell us that Jim Leon is living in the city of Lyon, France, and experiencing grave ill health. How doubly ironic, therefore, that such a great visionary artist should still be largely unknown in his own country, a nation routinely given to marginalising and trivialising imaginative excellence in any sphere, from William Blake onwards.

Those wishing to see more of Jim Leon's work could do worse than visit Lyon where, Jim Overbeck writes, his "...contribution to art is stupendous. A lot of galleries carry his big stuff..." and where appreciation extends to the commissioning of large interior and exterior public murals.

Jim Overbeck also mentions that several books are appearing or are in preparation, one by Gavin Prosser "...on psychedelic art, obviously featuring Jim and Peter Murphy, the icon painter." More information when we get it!

Update 16th January 2002:

We're sad to hear that Jim Leon died this week after a long bout of illness. We hope now that some of the books in preparation featuring his work rectify his obscurity in this country. Our condolences to his friends and family.

November 2003:

And now the good news! A dedicated website devoted to Jim Leon's life and works has been launched by his family. This promises to be an excellent resource for people to discover more about his powerful and visionary work and make these rarely-seen pictures widely available for a world audience.


Jim Leon 1

Titled: Psychopathia Sexualis (1967)

Jim Leon 2
Jim Leon 3
Jim Leon 4
Jim Leon 5
Jim Leon 6

Titled: Psychopathia Sexualis

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