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Lynne Lawner is an art historian, poet and photographer currently living in Manhattan. She is known for her publications in several fields and for her lectures at universities, museums, and other institutions across the United States.
Lawner’s books about art emphasize iconographical themes, the meaning of art, as well as social customs. Among these are: Lives of the Courtesans: Portraits of the Renaissance (1986); I Modi: The Sixteen Pleasures -- An Erotic Album of the Italian Renaissance (1988); Harlequin on the Moon: Commedia dell’Arte and the Visual Arts (1998)
Considered an expert on high-echelon courtesans in history, she has been invited to teach seminars and to lecture on the subject in many places, including University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Vassar, the Chicago Art Institute, the Harvard Club of NYC, and the National Arts Club. Her work on I Modi has been praised and defended by such disparate organs as scholarly journals and the periodical Penthouse Forum.
She has published two collections of poetry: Wedding Night of A Nun and Triangle Dream, the latter "frustrating, brilliant, occasionally moving" according to Kirkus Reviews. She won Poetry magazine’s Oscar Blumenthal Prize and later was invited to Yaddo. Her many translations of Italian poetry have appeared in journals such as Chelsea, Yale Italian Poetry, Italian Poetry Journal. In spring 2010, her edition Painted Fire: Selected Poetry of Maria Luisa Spaziani was published by Chelsea Press, New York City.
Evidence of her continuing engagement with contemporary political, social, and cultural concerns is contained in books such as Antonio Gramsci’s Letters From Prison, originally commissioned by the Ford Foundation Translation Center, when ten American writers were chosen to render ten neglected works of world literature into English. A book-length introduction to Gramsci’s life and work is included. Originally published by Harper and Row in 1973, it was reprinted by Farrar Straus Noonday Press, translated into Korean, and is still being used as a textbook in many American universities.
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Lawner received her B.A. from Wellesley College and her PhD from Columbia University. She won a Henry Fellowship from Harvard and Yale to study at Newnham College, Cambridge University. She has also been a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and an American Association of University Women grantee. Through the years she has been a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute, Villa I Tatti (the Harvard Center for Renaissance Italian Studies), and the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. She has also been a three-time Fulbright grantee: in Rome and as Senior Fulbright Research Fellow in Venice and Naples.
Much of Lawner’s scholarly work, poetry, and translations draw on her long-term residence in Rome, Italy (from 1958 through 1983). She has also been influenced by sojourns in the Swiss Alps over a period of many years. An artist’s edition of her poems together with her photographs, designed by Francesco Dondina and curated by Fabio Castelli, will be printed in 2011 in Milan, entitled Engadine Impressions. (Engadine is the high Swiss region where the Inn River begins, a wedge of land between Austria, Liechtenstein, and Italy.)
Between 2006 and 2010 she has developed her art of semi-abstract nature photography. Exhibitions are planned in Italy and Switzerland; she has been invited to participate in St. Moritz Arts Festival 2011.
- Lives of the Courtesans: Portraits of the Renaissance (Rizzoli International, 1986, Rizzoli Milan 1988)
- I Modi: The Sixteen Pleasures -- An Erotic Album of the Italian Renaissance (Northwestern University Press, 1989)
- Harlequin on the Moon: Commedia dell’Arte and the Visual Arts (Harry N. Abrams, 1998)
- Wedding Night of A Nun (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1964)
- Triangle Dream (Harper's, 1969)
- Charles Hope, "Renaissance Beauties", New York Review of Books, May 28, 1987, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1987/may/28/renaissance-beauties/
- Peter Campbell, "Suiting yourself", London Review of Books, July 27, 1989, http://www.lrb.co.uk/v11/n14/peter-campbell/suiting-yourself
- "Wedding Night of A Nun" (Review), Kirkus Reviews, Feb. 4, 1963, https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/lynne-lawner/wedding-night-of-a-nun/
- "Triangle Dream" (Review), Kirkus Reviews, Feb. 26, 1968, https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/lynne-lawner-2/triangle-dream/
- LIVES OF THE COURTESANS.
- I MODI, THE SIXTEEN PLEASURES: AN EROTIC ALBUM OF THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE.
- HARLEQUIN ON THE MOON: COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE AND THE VISUAL ARTS..
- WEDDING NIGHT OF A NUN: POEMS.