Leo YeniArtist Reception: January 14th
To honor the United Nations World Holocaust Memorial Day, the Stockton Art League is holding a formal reception of the art of Holocaust survivor, Leo DelaTorre Yeni on January 14, 2017, from 4:00-7:00 at the Elsie May Goodwin Gallery. A collection of Yeni’s work done while in an internment camp in Switzerland, is part of the permanent collection in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
Leo Yeni was born in 1920, in Milano, Italy, to Greek Jewish parents. He had studied art as a child, but in 1938, according to Mussolini’s racial laws, he was denied admission to art school. By 1943, the family moved to the town of Lugano on the Swiss border and went into hiding. On his mother’s urging, he illegally escaped across the border into Switzerland but was not allowed to stay. When he returned to Lugano, he found his family had been arrested, and he was advised to return to Switzerland and turn himself in. The authorities assigned him to an internment camp where he stayed until 1943. During his time at camp, Yeni drew sketches of camp life and wrote in his diaries and journals. When his talent was discovered, he was commissioned to do drawings of the camp barracks and other surroundings.
Yeni was eventually given day passes to visit family or to see a doctor in a neighboring town, but on one occasion he visited an art school, was interviewed by the director, and turned in an application for admission. On January 15, 1945, Yeni discovered he had been released from the camp, and 48 hours later, he found himself relocated into an apartment and attending classes at the art school.
By 1946, Yeni was settled in New York and had become a celebrated artist and designer. His paintings have been exhibited at the Salmagundi Club, the American Watercolor Society, Audubon Artists, Hudson Valley Art Association, and Allied Artists of America. He has won more than sixty awards and prizes in local and national exhibitions.