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 Lilian Louisa Swann Saarinen  (1912 - 1995)



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Lived/Active: New York/Massachusetts      Known for: sculpture-animal, public monument

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Lily Swann is primarily known as Lilian Louisa Swann Saarinen

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Ad Code: 4
Lily Swann Saarinen
An example of work by Lily Swann
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is submitted by Patti Cassidy, Researcher

Lillian Saarinen, sculptor, was born in New York City, and she appears to have lived most of her single adult life in Massachusetts where she died in Waltham. She studied at the Art Students League in NYC with Alexander Archipenko, at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and in Europe.

She was married to Eero Saarinen, architect, from 1939-51 and worked on the Arch, "The Gateway to the West", in St. Louis, Missouri with him. She also executed several architectural sculpture commissions on her own, such as the Crow Island School reliefs in Winnetka, IL; the reliefs at the Post Office in Carlisle, KY; and the Royal Dutch Airlines relief at JFK Airport in NYC.

She was the winner of several awards: the A.H. Huntington First Prize, the Rome Collaborative Competition, and the I.B.M. Competition in 1943.

She specialized in animal portraits, and her work "Bagheera", the panther
from Kipling's Jungle Book, can be seen in the Boston Public Garden where it was placed in 1986. Originally it was called "Night" and was the piece that she exhibited in the 1939 World's Fair.

She taught at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and in 1945, taught soldiers ceramic sculpture as part of the Red Cross Arts and Skills Unit rehabilitation program.

Saarinen also wrote two children's books and collaborated in another. In 1935, she illustrated a book called "Picture Book Zoo" for the Bronx Zoo, and in 1936, she was a member of the US Olympic Ski Team.
Following is an excerpt from an article, "Past Times: the Ladies of the Garden," by Patti Cassidy, published in the Beacon Hill Times, June 19, 2001, (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Bagheera illustrates a scene from Rudyard Kiplings "The Jungle Book."

Of the fourteen statues found in the Boston Public Garden, six were created by women. Its a remarkable number, since women artists have traditionally been in the minority in the world of public sculpture.

In the garden, literature and myth are recognized as well. Lillian Swann Saarinens fountain sculpture on the Charles Street side of the Lagoon is a prime example. Placed in 1986, the flowing sculpture depicts Bagheera, the panther of Rudyard Kiplings Jungle Stories, attempting to snag an owl.

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