Scope and Contents
The papers of artist Ellen Lanyon measure 62.6 linear feet and 84.47 GB and date from circa 1880-2015, 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 digital material, 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; digital material; 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. Some material is in digital format. 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, some in digital format.
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 and digital 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 and digital 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, digital material, 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, digital photographs, 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.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
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.
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Ellen Lanyon conducted by James Crawford in 1975.
The collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared by Hilary Price in 2016. Born-digital materials were processed by Kirsi Ritosalmi-Kisner in 2020 with funding provided by Smithsonian Collection Care and Preservation Fund.