Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt

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Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt
Born 1948
Elizabeth, New Jersey,
United States
Nationality American
Known for Collage, Mixed Media

Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt (born 1948) is an American artist who is also a veteran of the Stonewall riots.

Lanigan-Schmidt's artwork incorporates materials such as tinsel, foil, cellophane, saran wrap and glitter, embracing kitsch and intentionally tacky.[2] His work has been compared to that of Florine Stettheimer, who used cellophane in her sets for the Gertrude Stein/Virgil Thomson opera Four Saints in Three Acts; his art was included in an exhibit of artists influenced by Stettheimer.[3] His work has also been likened to the religious-themed tinfoil-covered thrones of art brut artist James Hampton.[4] He is sometimes grouped with the Pattern and Decoration art movement, though he says that is "retrospective craziness".[5][6] His art is noted for its incorporation of Catholic iconography.[7] [8] Joe Brainard is also cited as a forerunner with his use of decorative collage and queer and religious themes.[9][10]

Lanigan-Schmidt attended Pratt Institute in 1965-66, was rejected by Cooper Union, and attended School of Visual Arts.[6]

Lanigan-Schmidt began by exhibiting his art in his own apartment; an early major exhibit in 1969 was titled The Sacristy of the Hamptons.[2] Another home exhibit was titled The Summer Palace of Czarina Tatlina.[11] In these early home exhibits, and also in at least one later recreation of an early exhibit, he guided visitors through the exhibit in drag in character as art collector Ethel Dull.[12][13]

While Lanigan Schmidt's art is not widely known, he has received critical acclaim.

Reasons for Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt's art not reaching a wider audience totally elude me. This is major, major work, reflecting and augmenting today's dialogue in a unique and commanding voice. Many artists, including a generation of Lanigan-Schmidt's students, have been repeatedly amazed, inspired and guided by its panache, rapier-sharp wit, subversiveness and opulent beauty.

— Robert Kushner, Art in America[14]

He has been referenced as an antecedent to Jeff Koons in the intentional use of kitsch in art.[15]

Lanigan-Schmidt's work has been included in major art museum survey exhibits. His art was in the 1984 Venice Biennale, and his trip there inspired his 1985 Venetian Glass Series.[4] His foil rats and drag queens produced in the 1970s were included in the 1995 exhibit "In A Different Light" at the Berkeley Art Museum, which was curated by Lawrence Rinder and Nayland Blake.[16][17] His art was included in the 1991 Whitney Biennial as well as the Whitney Museum's survey of 20th-century art, "The American century: art & culture 1900-2000."[18]

Lanigan-Schmidt was an associate of the underground filmmaker Jack Smith. He participated in at least one of Smith's performances, "Withdrawal from Orchid Lagoon".[19] He was interviewed in the documentary Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis.[20] Another member of Lanigan-Schmidt's circle was Charles Ludlam.[21]

Lanigan-Schmidt, who is openly gay[14] was present at the Stonewall riots, a seminal moment in gay history, and is one of the few recognized veterans still living.[22][23][24] Shortly after the riot started, he was photographed with a group of other young people by photographer Fred W. McDarrah.[25] Lanigan-Schmidt appears in the film Stonewall in a documentary segment.[26] An installation art piece by Lanigan-Schmidt, Mother Stonewall and the Golden Rats commemorated the events at the Stonewall Inn.[27] In recognition of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Lanigan-Schmidt was among those invited to the White House to meet with Michelle and Barack Obama.[28]

He is on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts[29]

Lanigan-Schmidt worked as a 1960s Linden youth doing "odd jobs to help support his family and was bullied by high school thugs," moving to New York City as a young man.[30] As a child in 1950s Linden, after Lanigan-Schmidt was assigned to decorate the school bulletin board in his Catholic elementary school, he built a detailed model of a church altar. The impressive model was featured in a local paper while Lanigan-Schmidt was a student at St. Elizabeth School at 170 Hussa Street. The school closed in 2014; it is a part of the campus of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church in Linden.[31]

From November 18, 2012 to April 7, 2013, Lanigan-Schmidt's art was the subject of a retrospective at MoMA PS1.[32]


  • "Ecce Homo: Thomas Lanigan-Schmit and the Art of Rebellion", Pavel Zoubok, June 6-August 9, 2013[33][34]
  • "Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt: Tender Love Among the Junk," MoMA PS1, October 2012- April 2013[35]
  • "The True Praxis of Dotty Page, Willy Nilly & the Book of Roof, Read Daily by Savant in the Cathedral of St. Anamnesis, & the Sacred Dentures of Emma Street," The Front Room, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 2010[36]
  • "Tenement Symphony," Pavel Zoubok, September 10-October 10, 2009[37]
  • "Placemats and Potholders (Memory & Desire)," Pavel Zoubok, 2006[38]
  • "Collage: Signs and Surfaces," Pavel Zoubok, 2005[39]
  • "Stapled to the Soul," Pavel Zoubok, 2005[40]
  • "The American Century: Art & Culture 1900-2000", Whitney Museum, 1999[18]
  • "Hidden Treasures," Holly Solomon Gallery, 1999[14]
  • "Love Flight of a Pink Candy Heart," Holly Solomon Gallery, 1996[3]
  • "In a Different Light," Berkeley Art Museum, 1995[16]
  • "Byzantine Neo-Platonic Rectangles," Holly Solomon Gallery, 1994[8]
  • "1969: A Year Revisited," New York University's Grey Art Gallery, 1994[13]
  • "The Summer Palace of Czarina Tatlina, 1969-70, a reconstruction," Holly Solomon Gallery, 1992[41]
  • Whitney Biennial, 1991[42]
  • "The Center Show," Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center, 1989[27]
  • "Halfway to Paradise," Holly Solomon Gallery, 1988[43]
  • "A Theology of Glitter: An Aesthetic of Poverty", Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, MD, 1986 [44]
  • "Venetian Glass Series," Holly Solomon Gallery, 1985[4][45]
  • Venice Biennale, 1984[4]
  • "The Preying Hands", Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, NY, 1983[44]
  • "Religion Into Art", Pratt Manhattan Center, 1981[46]
  • "Grace and Original Sin: Saints and Sinners," Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, NY, 1980[44]
  • "10 artists/artists space," Neuberger Museum, SUNY Purchase, 1979[47]
  • "Iconostasis", Holly Solomon Gallery, 1978[44]
  • "Thomas Lanigan Schmidt, James Biederman, Charles Simonds", Artists Space, December 7–28, 1974[48]
  • "The Summer Palace of Czarina Tatlina", 266 E. 4th Street, 1969-1970[11][12]
  • "The Sacristy of the Hamptons", 266 E. 4th Street, 1969[2][12]


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  2. ^ a b c Sandler, Irving (1996), Art of the postmodern era: from the late 1960s to the early 1990s, Westview Press, p. 157, ISBN 978-0-8133-3433-2 
  3. ^ a b Upshaw, Reagan (Jan 1996), ""Love Flight of a Pink Candy Heart" at Holly Solomon", Art in America [dead link]
  4. ^ a b c d Raynor, Vivien (1985-09-13), "Art: Blue-Collar Lanigan-Schmidt", New York Times, retrieved 2009-09-12 
  5. ^ Glueck, Grace (2002-06-10), "Holly Solomon, Adventurous Art Dealer, Is Dead at 68", New York Times, pp. B8, retrieved 2009-09-12 
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  7. ^ Occhiogrosso, Peter (1989), Once a Catholic: prominent Catholics and ex-Catholics reveal the influence of the church on their lives and work, Ballantine Books, ISBN 978-0-345-35670-3 
  8. ^ a b Westfall, Stephen (1994-05-01), "Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt at Holly Solomon. (New York, New York)", Art in America 
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  10. ^ Lewallen, Constance (2001), Joe Brainard: a retrospective, University of California, Berkeley Art Museum, p. 15, ISBN 978-1-887123-44-0 
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  12. ^ a b c Ludlam, Charles (1992), "Mr. T. or El Pato in the Gilded Summer Palace of Czarina-Tatlina", Scourge of Human Folly, New York: Theatre Communications Group, p. 148, ISBN 978-1-55936-041-8 
  13. ^ a b Atkins, Robert (1994-06-24), "Queer for You", Village Voice, retrieved 2009-09-16 
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  15. ^ Klein, Ulrike (1994), The business of art unveiled: New York art dealers speak up, Peter Lang, p. 190, ISBN 978-3-631-46364-2 
  16. ^ a b Rinder, Lawrence; Scholder, Amy (1995), In a Different Light: Visual Culture, Sexual Identity, Queer Practice, San Francisco: City Lights Publishers, ISBN 978-0872863002 
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  18. ^ a b Saltz, Jerry (1999-10-12), "Tasting Menu", Village Voice, retrieved 2009-09-12 
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  20. ^ Weissberg, Jay (2006-05-10), "Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis", Variety 
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  22. ^ Adler, Margot (2009-06-28). "40 Years Later, Stonewall Riots Remembered". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  23. ^ Carter, David (2005), Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution, Macmillan, ISBN 978-0-312-34269-2 
  24. ^ Rick, Bragg (1994-06-23), "From a Night of Rage, the Seeds of Liberation", New York Times, retrieved 2009-09-12 
  25. ^ Khan, Shazia (2009-06-23). "Pride Week 2009: Stonewall Patron Reflects On Riots". NY1. Archived from the original on 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  26. ^ Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt on IMDb
  27. ^ a b Atkins, Robert (1989-06-13), "Art on Stone Walls", Village Voice 
  28. ^ "Obama hosts reception and renews commitment to LGBT community". SAGE. 2009-08-03. 
  29. ^ "School of Visual Arts: Our Faculty". School of Visual Art. Retrieved 2013-08-16. 
  30. ^ Johnson, Ken (6 December 2012). "Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, at MoMA PS1". Retrieved 6 April 2018 – via 
  31. ^ BOMB Magazine: Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt by Jessica Baran; Newspaper clipping, "Pupil Constructs Church Model," c. 1955; (he is misattributed in the photo; he is the boy on the lower right).
  32. ^ Johnson, Ken (2012-12-06), "The Alchemy of Debris Forged Into Passion", New York Times 
  33. ^ "Ecce Homo: Thomas Lanigan-Schmit and the Art of Rebellion". Pavel Zoubok Gallery. June 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-16. 
  34. ^ Steinhauer, Jillian (2013-08-09), "Glitter, Not Gold: The Art of Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt", Hyperallergic 
  35. ^ Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt: Tender Love Among the Junk, MoMA PS1, October 2012 – April 2013, retrieved 2013-02-14 
  36. ^ Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt: The True Praxis of Dotty Page, Willy Nilly & the Book of Roof, Read Daily by Savant in the Cathedral of St. Anamnesis, & the Sacred Dentures of Emma Street, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, April 30 – May 23, 2010, retrieved 2010-06-17 
  37. ^ "Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt - Tenement Symphony". Pavel Zoubok Gallery. September 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-10-01. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
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  39. ^ Camhi, Leslie (2005-05-03), "A Show With All the Pleasures of a Highly Refined Flea Market", Village Voice, retrieved 2009-09-12 
  40. ^ Belasco, Daniel (2005-02-01), "Jerry Jofen and Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt at Pavel Zoubok", Art in America 
  41. ^ Brad Davis, recent paintings: 26 March-25 April 1992, Holly Solomon Gallery, 1992 
  42. ^ Axsom, Richard (2002), Contemporary Art, glbtq, Inc., archived from the original on 2009-10-16 
  43. ^ Halfway to Paradise: Thomas Lanigan Schmidt, New York: Holly Solomon Gallery, 1988 
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  45. ^ Brenson, Michael (1985-09-29), "Gallery View; From Young Artists, Defiance Behind a Smiling Facade", New York Times, retrieved 2009-09-12 
  46. ^ Larson, Kay (1981-03-23), "Skin Deep", New York Magazine: 59 
  47. ^ 10 artists/artists space: Laurie Anderson, Jon Borofsky, Scott Burton, Lois Lane, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Ree Morton, Judy Pfaff, Charles Simonds, Barbara Schwartz, John Torreano, 9 September-15 October 1979, Neuberger Museum, State University of New York, College at Purchase, 1980, ISBN 978-0-934032-01-8 
  48. ^ Thomas Lanigan Schmidt, James Biederman, Charles Simonds, Artists Space, retrieved 2013-08-16