Ellen Lanyon

Chinese Wonder Bowl #2, 1970

American, 1926

A book her son brought home from school, Science in Play or Magical Experiments, originally inspired the theme of magic used in Lanyon’s work. Her initial fascination lead to a series of paintings, individual color lithographs such as Chinese Wonder Bowl #2 and her own limited edition book of twelve stunts and twelve prints, Wonder Production Volume I (1971).

Printed by Landfall Press, Chinese Wonder Bowl #2 visually and verbally describes a magic trick in which water is transformed into “a quantity of birds and beasts.” Transformation and metamorphosis are key elements in magic and the artistic process, helping both to create illusions.

In Lanyon’s narratives the surreal that merges the unrelated and improbable is expressed using realistic images, familiar household items, everyday decorative objects and pictures of animals and plants culled from her vast collection of books.

Painter, draftsman, printmaker, public artist and feminist, Ellen Lanyon has works in the collections of many major museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Gift of the artist, 2011