(Chicago, Illinois, 1926 - 2013, New York, New York)
On her 12th birthday, Ellen Lanyon was gifted art supplies left by her grandfather, who had emigrated from Yorkshire, England, to paint murals for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Five years earlier, her grandfather had taken Lanyon to the 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair, where she was fascinated by the "Midget Village."
As a Depression-era high school student, Lanyon took a job enlarging mechanical designs, honing her drafting skills. She subsequently graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and earned her MFA from the University of Iowa in 1950. Lanyon became a well-regarded Chicago artist, a reputation she maintained after moving to New York City in 1980. In the 1960s, Lanyon managed the Oxbow art school in Saugatuck, Michigan; among the schools where she taught were the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Cooper Union, and the School of Visual Arts in New York.
Over the course of her career, Lanyon received awards from the Fulbright Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts and several Yaddo Fellowships. She was accorded more than 75 one-person exhibitions and her work is represented in the collections of many museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art-Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Lanyon died going through customs in New York on her return from making a series of prints in Cambridge, England.