LARRY LEWIS 1916-2004
Larry Lewis was born in Norwalk, CT in 1916, was raised there and lived in his childhood home most of his life. He attended but dropped out of both Columbia University and University of Michigan before enlisting in WWII. Sometime in the late 1940's, early 50's he took a few classes at the Art Students League in New York City, but was essentially self taught.
He exhibited in one group show at the Ward Eggleston Gallery in New York City and later at the Vanderlyn Art Gallery in Mount Vernon, NY. His artistic progress is sketchy as he dated very little of his work and there are no records of other exhibitions. It wasn't until the late 1960's that he began his incredible collage books which he continued to produce until his death in 2004.
He was a reclusive and unassuming man, but his books took on another life. He hand inked and painted brilliantly colored pages of ledger books and then created collages from photocopies of collected Victorian ephemera, images of movie stars from the 1920's and 30's and newspaper ads for elixirs, potions and ways to flatten face wrinkles, address sagging waistlines, pinch back big ears and remedy bodies that needed to be fortified and beautified. Each page and spread was composed as a painting unto itself. When the ledger book format became too confining for Larry to work in he made larger books by hand. We are told by Sharyn Prentiss Laughton, his niece and heir to the art work, that Larry never finished any of his books, but rather worked random haphazardly through each one and showed them to the best of her knowledge only to Sharyn. The totality of Larry's work was discovered after he died.
Sharyn was left the contents of his home along with his art, but as fate would have it she was not able to empty the house or the work herself. She called her friend, artist Lina Morielli to help remove the contents of his home and more importantly to look at the collage books and all of his life's work. Lina loved the work as much as Sharyn and together they began the journey to find a venue to finally exhibit and share Larry's amazing books and artistic process.