Donald Lipski

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Donald Lipski
Born 21 May 1947
Chicago, Illinois
Nationality American
Known for sculpture, ceramics
Awards Scholastic Art Award
National Endowment for the Arts
1978, 1984, 1990
Guggenheim Fellowship
Rome Prize

Donald Lipski (born May 21, 1947) is an American sculptor best known for his installation work and large-scale public works.

Building Steam No. 317, 1982-85, crystal ball and intercom. (Photo: Dorothy Zeidman)

Early life and education[edit]

Donald Lipski was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1947. He was raised in the northern suburb of Highland Park, the son and grandson of bicycle dealers. Although his first welded sculptures as a teen won him The Scholastic Art Award in high school, he was a history major and anti-war activist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, earning a B.A. in American History in 1970. In Madison, Lipski discovered ceramics while working with well-known ceramics artist Don Reitz. He then pursued an MFA in ceramics from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1973, where he studied with Richard DeVore and Michael Hall. Lipski taught at the University of Oklahoma from 1973 to 1977, when he moved to New York.

Building Steam No. 386 (The Book of Knowledge), 1985. Collection: Yale University Art Gallery. (Photo: Dorothy Zeidman)

Art career[edit]

Lipski attained growing recognition with his early installation Gathering Dust, which comprised thousands of tiny sculptures pinned to the wall, first at New York gallery Artists Space in 1978, and soon after in Museum of Modern Art as part of the Project series.[1] In 1978 he won the first of three National Endowment for the Arts grants, followed by a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1988,[2] an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1993, and the Rome Prize[3] of The American Academy in Rome in 2000. He is permanently conserved in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art,[4] the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., The Art Institute of Chicago, and dozens of other museums.

Lipski's installation works continued in the 1990s with The Bells, at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati,[5] The Starry Night, at Capp Street Project,[6] San Francisco, Pieces of String Too Short to Save,[7] in the Grand Lobby of The Brooklyn Museum, NY), and The Cauldron[8] at the Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York.

In recent years, Lipski has focused his efforts on creating large-scale works for public spaces. Some of his most recognizable works include The Yearling, outside the Denver Public Library (originally exhibited by The Public Art Fund at Doris Freedman Plaza, Central Park, New York, 1997), Sirshasana, hanging in the Grand Central Market, Grand Central Terminal in New York City, and F.I.S.H. at the San Antonio River Walk, in Texas. There are twenty others across the U.S.

In 2012, Lipski was living and working in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is represented by Galerie Lelong in New York.

Public collections[edit]


  • Donald Lipski, retrospective catalogue, The Bawag Foundation, Vienna, 1999-2000 (text David Levy Strauss).
  • Arnason, H.H. History of Modern Art. 3rd ed. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc, 1986.
  • Bellamy, Peter. The Artist Project. New York: IN Publishing, 1991.
  • Heartney, Eleanor, et al. The Refco Collection. Chicago: Refco Group Ltd, 1990.
  • Pradel, Jean Louis, ed. World Art Trends 1983/84. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc, 1984.
  • King, Elain. "Donald Lipski" in Artists Observed. Edited by Harvey Sten. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc, 1986, pp. 38–39.
  • Fleischman, Stephen, and Terrie Sultan. Donald Lipski: A Brief History of Twine. Madison, WI: Madison Art Center, 2000.
  • Richer, Francesca and Matthew Rosenzweig eds. No. 1: First Works by 362 Artists. New York: Distributed Art Publishers, 2005.
  • Bloodworth, Sandra and William Ayres. Along the Way. New York: The Monacelli Press, 2006.

Further reading[edit]

  • Freedman Gallery, Albright College. Donald Lipski: Poetic Sculpture. Reading, PA, 1990. Text by David S. Rubin.
  • Hillwood Art Gallery, Long Island University. Broken Wings: Donald Lipski at Grumman. Brookville, NY, 1987. Text by Judy Collischan Van Wagner.
  • Kaufman, Leslie. "Appreciating the Physical World: A Conversation with Donald Lipski." Sculpture, 26, (November 2007): 28–35.
  • Kuspit, Donald. Donald Lipski: Building Steam. New York: Germans Van Eck Gallery, 1985.
  • Princenthal, Nancy. "Reweaving Old Glory." Art in America, 79, (May 1991): 136–41, 182.
  • Saunders, Wade. "Talking Objects: Interviews with Ten Younger Sculptors." Art in America, 73, (November 1985): 110–37.
  • Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. Donald Lipski: Oral History. Winston-Salem, NC, 1994.
  • Yau, John. Donald Lipski: Who's Afraid of Red, White, and Blue? Philadelphia: Fabric Workshop, 1991.
  • Riley, Jan. Donald Lipski: The Bells. Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1991.

Public commissions[edit]

  • 2010 -Psyche, Auraria Campus, Denver, CO
    • -Jackson, Reno, Nev, –Regional Bus Terminal
  • 2009 -The Ziz, Goodyear Ball Park, Goodyear, AZ
    • -F.I.S.H., The River Walk, San Antonio, TX
  • 2008 -Cowcatcher, Sparks, Nev. –Regional Bus Terminal
    • -The Tent, Indianapolis
  • 2007 - The Doors, City of Scottsdale, AZ
    • -Leaves of Grass, Levine Children's Hospital, Charlotte, NC
  • 2006 -The Lorelei Club Minneapolis Central Library
  • 2005 -Nails' Tales University of Wisconsin
    • -Intimate Apparel & Pearl Earrings Fort Worth Convention Center
    • -Sylvia, Arthur City of Chicago
  • 2004 -Got Any Jacks? Miami International Airport
  • 2003 -Five Easy Pieces, Washington DC Convention Center
  • 2001 -Tools, Wellington Webb Municipal Building, Denver, Colorado
  • 2000 - Rodin Rodannadanna, Avenue of the Arts, Kansas City
    • -Sirshasana, Grand Central Market, Grand Central Terminal, New York City
  • 1997 -The Yearling, Doris Friedman Plaza, Central Park, sponsored by The Public Art, Fund, New York (The Yearling now resides at the Denver Public Library)
    • -The LaGuardia Suite, Concert Hall, La Guardia High School for Music


  1. ^ Kreisberg, Luisa (February 1979). "PROJECTS: DONALD LIPSKI" (PDF). The Museum of Modern Art. MOMA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2012. 
  2. ^ "Donald Lipski". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "Member Directory: Fellows - Affiliated Fellows - Residents 1990-2010". American Academy in Rome. Retrieved 2 June 2012. 
  4. ^ "Search the Collections - Donald Lipski". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  5. ^ "Museum History - A chronology of the CAC from its 1939 founding". CAC Contemporary Arts Center. Retrieved 2 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "Donald Lipski, The Starry Night". Capp Street Project. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "Donald Lipski: Pieces of String Too Short to Save". Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  8. ^ Ketcham, Diane (9 June 1996). "Long Island Journal - Art on the Grand Scale". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 June 2012.