Edward Laning

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Edward Laning
Archives of American Art - Edward Laning - 2217 CROPPED.jpg
Edward Laning, 1937
(Archives of American Art collection)
Born26 April 1906
Petersburg, Illinois, United States
DiedMay 1981
EducationArt Institute of Chicago, University of Chicago, Art Students League
Known forPainting
Notable work
"The Story of the Recorded Word"
Spouse(s)Mary Fife Laning

Edward Laning was an American painter.



Laning was born in 1906 in Petersburg, Illinois.

He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago (1923–24) and the University of Chicago, (1925–27). He also studied at the Art Students League with Max Weber, Boardman Robinson, John Sloan and Kenneth Hayes Miller (1927–30).

Paintings, murals[edit]

In 1931, Laning's work formed part of the first major show at the newly formed Whitney Museum of American Art.[1] He painted murals for the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression[1] as well as a post office mural in Rockingham, North Carolina (1937).[2] In 1935, he painted the Ellis Island murals (chosen over Japanese-American artist Hideo Noda):

It was a great relief to PWA, to the College Art Association, to Architects Harvey Wiley Corbett and Chester Holmes Aldrich and to Edward Laning last week to learn that Commissioner of Immigration & Naturalization Rudolph Reimer at Ellis Island had finally approved Artist Laning's designs for murals for the dining hall at New York's immigrant station. Cheered, Muralist Laning and his two assistants, James Rutledge and Albert Soroka, hustled to get his cartoons on tempera and gesso panels as soon as possible.[3]

In 1937, he painted murals in the New York Public Library, including his most famous work, "The Story of the Recorded Word."[1]

In 1980, Laning came to Ogden, Utah, to personally oversee the installation of his two 50-foot by 12-foot murals in the Grand Lobby of the historic Ogden Railway Station. The northern side depicts the Union Pacific company coming from Omaha, Nebraska, and the southern side depicts the Central Pacific coming from Sacramento, California. The National Academy of Design of New York City granted $100,000 to Union Station as his commission.


Laning taught art at the Art Students League (1932–33, 1945–50, 1952), and the Kansas City Art Institute.[4]

He was a member of the American Society of Painters, Sculptors and Gravers and the National Academy of Design. He served as President of the National Society of Mural Painters from 1970 to 1974.[5]


Laning died in 1981 in New York, survived by his wife, artist Mary Fife Laning.[1]


In assessing his works, the Smithsonian Institution writes:

In his work, Laning expressed his disenchantment with the political and social uncertainties of post-Depression America and his perception of the degradation of American values; in several paintings he used fire as a symbol of impending societal destruction.[6]

Laning's works have been displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago (1945), the Carnegie Institute (1945), and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (1944–45).[4]

His works can be viewed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Richmond Professional Institute.

In addition, his works can be seen at the New York Public Library and U.S. post offices in Rockingham, North Carolina and Bowling Green, Kentucky.


  • Fourteenth Street (1931)[7]
  • 1929 Crash (1929?)
  • Pantheon (1937)
  • New York Public Library murals (1937):
    • The Story of the Recorded Word
    • Learning to Read[8]
    • History of the Written Word[9]
  • The Role of the Immigrant in the Industrial Development of American (1937)
  • The Past as Connecting Threads in Human Life, triptych, USPO, Rockingham, North Carolina (1937) [2]
  • The Escape (date?)
  • Coney Island Beach Scene (1938)[10]
  • Prometheus (1942)[11]
  • Armor in Alaska (1943[citation needed]
  • Kiska Raid (1943)[12]
  • Florence August 1944 (1944)[13]
  • Saturday Afternoon at Sportsmans Park (ca. 1945)[14]
  • The Building (ca. 1955)
  • Union Pacific (north side mural at Union Station) (1980)
  • Central Pacific (south side mural at Union Station) (1980)



  • Sketchbooks of Reginald Marsh, compiled by Edward Laning (1973)[17]


  • Hello, the Boat! by Phyllis Crawford with pictures by Edward Laning (1938)[18]


  1. ^ a b c d "Edward Laning". New York Times. 9 May 1981. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b Park, Marlene and Gerald E. Markowitz, Democratic vistas: Post Offices and Public Art in the New Deal, Temple University Press, Philadelphia 1984
  3. ^ "Ellis Island's Railroad". TIME magazine. 16 September 1935. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  4. ^ a b Biography, accessed December 2011
  5. ^ http://nationalsocietyofmuralpainters.com
  6. ^ "Edward Laning". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  7. ^ "Breaking Ground: The Whitney's Founding Collection, April 28-September 18, 2011". Whitney Museum of American Art. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  8. ^ "General Research Division". New York Public Library. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  9. ^ "McGraw Rotunda". New York Public Library. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  10. ^ "Coney Island: 1930's Fun on a Budget". Weatherspoon Art Museum. 12 April 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Prometheus". Culture Now. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  12. ^ "World War II: The War Against Japan". U.S. Army. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  13. ^ "World War Two drawings acquired". Brown University. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  14. ^ The Art of Baseball at the Concord Museum https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/west/2015/04/13/photos-the-art-baseball-the-concord-museum/mB7fSvurFaVOqiSqfXKVFK/story.html?pic=5
  15. ^ "Sketchbooks of Reginald Marsh". New York: Pitman Pub. Corp. Library of Congress. 1967. p. 48. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  16. ^ "The Act of Drawing". New York: McGraw-Hill. Library of Congress. 1971. p. 159. ISBN 0070363498. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  17. ^ "Sketchbooks of Reginald Marsh". Greenwich, Connecticut: New York Graphic Society. Library of Congress. 1973. p. 168. ISBN 0821205382. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  18. ^ "Hello, the Boat!". Library of Congress. Retrieved 31 January 2013.

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Bureau of Reclamation.

External sources[edit]