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Ellen Lanyon's "Beyond the Borders"

Collection Spotlight

January 20, 2015 Through April 26, 2015
In the Hinchcliff Reception Hall

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Ellen Lanyon (American, 1926-2013), Zebra (detail), from the series Beyond the Borders
Photo Credit: 

Laura Shea

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Ellen Lanyon (American, 1926-2013), Macaws (detail), from the series Beyond the Borders
Photo Credit: 

Laura Shea

mh_2014_20_2_v1_01-hpr.jpg

Zebra (detail), from the series Beyond the Borders, 1996-2007

Ellen Lanyon (American, 1926-2013)
Acrylic on canvas
2014.20.2

Ellen Lanyon (American, 1926-2013), Zebra (detail), from the series Beyond the Borders

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Macaws (detail), from the series Beyond the Borders, 1996-2007

Ellen Lanyon (American, 1926-2013)
Acrylic on canvas
2014.20.5

Ellen Lanyon (American, 1926-2013), Macaws (detail), from the series Beyond the Borders

Ellen Lanyon (1926-2013) was a celebrated artist associated with a movement of representational painters known as the Chicago Imagists. She created fantastical works throughout her sixty-year career, including the series on view, titled Beyond the Borders, which captures Lanyon’s fascination with both design and the natural world.

Lanyon became particularly interested in natural themes after a trip to the Everglades where she observed the environmental damage wrought by human activity. For her, nature became a powerful means of expressing the themes of metamorphosis and illusion that had preoccupied the artist throughout her career.

In Beyond the Borders, Lanyon blended decorative motifs found in antique wallpaper patterns with images drawn from nature. Her canvases seem to burst with movement and energy: caribou spar with their antlers entangled, and a stampede of zebras seems to be on the verge of breaking through the painting itself.

Curated by Elizabeth Kendrick '14, Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Intern

This installation is made possible by the Lucy P. Eisenhart Fund.