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Exhibit Highlights

burns library

Michael de Lisio: Artists & Writers

Original Exhibit Summer 1998

This exhibit features examples of the sculpture of New York artist Michael de Lisio, as well as books, letters, and memorabilia relating to him. De Lisio (born 1910) is an unusual "outsider" artist: he is a self-taught sculptor, with a sophisticated aesthetic. He sculpted his first head at the age of fifty-five; since then writers and other cultural figures that he knew or admired have become the important subjects of his work. De Lisio reinvented technique as needed, and developed a semi-naturalistic but individualized style in a series of early busts and later standing figures.

Janet Flanner was a member of the Paris expatriate community in the 1920s and 30s. During this time Americans knew her as the journalist "Genet," whose Paris letters regularly appeared in the New Yorker. Her memoirs of the period Paris was Yesterday and London was Yesterday recall her days in the company of various notable figures. In the sculpture at left de Lisio portrays Flanner at a costume party she attended in 1929. He worked from a photograph of Flanner which appeared on a postcard she sent him. The 1967 bronze work captures Flanner's well-remembered sense of humor, and projects a slightly-perceptible severity that becomes pronounced in his later works.

John D. Schiff, photographer

W.H. Auden was one of the great English-language poets of the twentieth century, and also one of the most controversial. He began writing in 1926, while a student at Oxford, and later became a voice for England's postwar generation. In 1946 Auden became a United States citizen, though he retained many ties with his homeland. He held a chair in poetry at Oxford from 1956 to 1961, received the National Medal for Literature in 1967, and returned to Oxford as an honorary fellow in 1972. De Lisio's sculpture at left depicts Auden around 1947. It was executed in 1968 from bronze.

For Further Study: The Burns Library exhibit complements a McMullen Museum of Art exhibition called "Art and Literature: Three Exhibitions." Part of the museum's exhibition focuses on sculpture by Michael de Lisio.

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