The papers of artist Ellen Lanyon measure 62.6 linear feet and date from circa 1880-2014, bulk 1926-2013. Biographical material; correspondence; interviews; writings; journals; project files; teaching files; exhibition files; personal business records; printed and broadcast material; scrapbooks; photographic material; artwork; sketchbooks; as well as sound and video recordings and electronic records, provide a comprehensive view of Lanyon's career and of art circles in Chicago and New York. Correspondence with artists and friends make up a significant portion of the collection. Project and exhibition files reflect her professional and artistic career. Thousands of slides and photographs document her life and artwork over seven decades, and over seventy sketchbooks are filled with student sketches, portraits of friends and family, and preliminary drawings.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of artist Ellen Lanyon measure 62.6 linear feet and date from circa 1880-2014, bulk 1926-2013. Biographical material; correspondence; interviews; writings; journals; project files; teaching files; exhibition files; personal business records; printed and broadcast material; scrapbooks; photographic material; artwork; sketchbooks; as well as sound and video recordings and electronic records, provide a comprehensive view of Lanyon's career and of art circles in Chicago and New York.
Biographical material documents Lanyon's major life events and includes calendars; addresses and contacts; life documents; awards; diplomas and school records; resumes; horoscope readings and natal chart; residence documents; personal memorabilia; family papers and memorabilia; and items relating to Lanyon's memorial.
Correspondence, both personal and professional, consists of letters, postcards, holiday and greeting cards exchanged with family, friends, artists, collectors, publishers, print shops, museums, galleries, and cultural and educational institutions. Notable correspondents include Judy Chicago, Leon Golub, Red Grooms, Richard Hunt, Joyce Kozloff, Lucy Lippard, Gladys Nilsson, Irving Petlin, Edward Plunkett, Dorothea Rockburne, Miriam Schapiro, Buzz Spector, May Stevens, and Michelle Stuart.
Fourteen interviews are with Ellen Lanyon conducted by various interviewers on behalf of a number of organizations and consist of transcripts, sound recordings, and video recordings.
Writings include general writings, lectures, presentations, and thirty-seven notebooks by Lanyon. A few writings by others about Lanyon and several sound recordings of lectures by other artists are also found here.
Twenty-five journals intermittently record Lanyon's reflections on her day-to-day life including her work, obligations, and relationships.
Project files include professional activities and files documenting projects and commissions. Files may contain project proposals, correspondence, printed material, applications, contracts, research notes, invoices, receipts, notebooks, sketches, plans, organizational records, and photographic material. Three multi-year projects are extensively documented, including theMiami Metamorphosis mural, Riverwalk Gateway mural, and Hiawatha Rail Line mural.
Teaching files consist of correspondence, memoranda, course descriptions and proposals, rosters, administrative documents, and printed material from a number of institutions, including Cooper Union, where Lanyon taught from the 1970s to her retirement in 1993.
Exhibition files include files for individual exhibitions, exhibitions by women artists, and chronological files. Files may contain correspondence, inventories, consignment records, layout plans, printed material, and photographic material.
Personal business, inventory, and estate records document the financial and administrative history of Lanyon's career and artworks.
Printed material, broadcast material, and published video recordings document Lanyon's career, art movements in Chicago and New York, and the women's movement in art. Files may contain books, booklets, broadsides, radio and television broadcasts, brochures, exhibition announcements and catalogs, lecture announcements, news and magazine clippings, newspapers and newsletters, periodicals, press releases, programs, video recordings, source material, and posters.
Eight scrapbooks contain predominantly clippings and exhibition material documenting Lanyon's career.
Photographic material consists of thousands of prints, slides, transparencies, and negatives of Lanyon, family, friends, artists, places, and artwork.
A small number of artworks include a self-portrait Lanyon carved in wood, a childhood painting, a photo collage, sketches, and one folder of assignments for an art course. Artworks by others are a hand colored photograph album by Marcia Palazzolo and prints distributed by Landfall Press.
Seventy-one sketchbooks are filled with student sketches, portraits of friends and family, and preliminary drawings done in pencil, watercolor, and colored pencil.
The content of the sound and video recordings, and electronic records in the last series remains unidentified and existing labeling is insufficient for further description.
The collection is arranged as fifteen series
Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1880-2014, bulk 1926-2013 (5.3 linear feet; Box 1-6, 62)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1936-2013 (14.3 linear feet; Box 6-20)
Series 3: Interviews, circa 1975-2012 (0.7 linear feet; Box 20-21)
Series 4: Writings, Lectures, and Notebooks, circa 1947-2013 (3.2 linear feet; Box 21-24)
Series 5: Journals, 1967-2013 (1 linear foot; Box 24-25)
Series 6: Project Files, 1952-2014 (5.8 linear feet; Box 25-31, 62, OV 66)
Series 7: Teaching Files, 1953-2010 (0.9 linear feet; Box 31)
Series 8: Exhibition Files, circa 1944-2013 (2.7 linear feet; Box 32-34, 63)
Series 9: Personal Business, Inventory, and Estate Records, circa 1950-2014 (3 linear feet; Box 34-37)
Series 10: Printed and Broadcast Material, and Published Video Recordings, 1937-2013 (13.3 linear feet; Box 37-49, 63, OV 67-77)
Series 11: Scrapbooks, 1946-2013 (0.6 linear feet; Box 49-50)
Series 12: Photographic Material, circa 1920-2013 (7.7 linear feet; Box 50-57, 63)
Series 13: Artwork, circa 1938-1979 (0.2 linear feet; Box 58, 63)
Series 14: Sketchbooks, circa 1940-2010 (3.4 linear feet; Box 58-60, 64, 65)
Series 15: Unidentified Sound and Video Recordings, and Electronic Records, circa 1974-2013 (0.5 linear feet; Box 60-61)
Biographical / Historical:
Ellen Lanyon (1926-2013) was an American painter and printmaker working in Chicago and New York. She was born in Chicago, Illinois to Howard and Ellen (Nellie) Lanyon. Lanyon received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1948 and married classmate and artist Roland Ginzel that same year. In 1950, she received her MFA from the University of Iowa. As part of her post graduate work, Lanyon studied at the Courtauld Institute, University of London on a Fulbright Fellowship.
In the late 1940s, Lanyon began exhibiting her work and was featured in several Chicago and Vicinity Annual shows as well as the Momentum exhibitions. Influenced by surrealism, magic realism, and the work of the Chicago Imagists and the Hairy Who, Lanyon's subjects range from portraits of friends and family, to objects from her collection of curios, to flora and fauna. She produced paintings, drawings, print editions, artist's books, and some ceramics. In addition to her own artwork, Lanyon took on numerous commissions including the Riverwalk Gateway murals in Chicago, the Hiawatha Transit murals in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and a variety of illustration work.
Lanyon was active in many professional organizations and women's organizations including the College Art Association (CAA) and the Women's Caucus for Art. She organized panels at CAA, contributed writings and editing to journals, including Heresies, and served on a variety of panels and juries. Lanyon was also on the Board of the Ox-Bow Summer School of Painting, which she attended in her youth. Over the course of her career, she taught at many colleges and universities, including Cooper Union, where she was Associate Professor.
Throughout her career, Lanyon participated in exhibitions around the country, including a retrospective of her work at the National Museum for Women in the Arts in 1999. She was also the recipient of many awards and grants including the Logan Price and a National Endowment for the Arts grant.
Lanyon and Ginzel had two children, Andrew and Lisa Ginzel.
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Ellen Lanyon conducted by James Crawford in 1975.
A majority of the collection was donated in 2015 by Andrew Ginszel, Ellen Lanyon's son and executor. Lanyon also donated material in 1990. Portions of the collection were lent for microfilming from 1977-1981 by Lanyon and subsequently donated.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The Ellen Lanyon papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.