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 Florence Wyle  (1881 - 1968)

About: Florence Wyle
 

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Lived/Active: Ontario/Illinois / Canada      Known for: sculptor-figure and animal, torso

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Though Florence Wyle became a well-known Canadian sculptor of memorials and smaller figures, she was an American, born in 1881 in Trenton, Illinois.  Taking pre-medical studies from 1900 to 1903 at the University of Illinois, in Urbana, she decided in the latter year to study art at the Art Institute of Chicago.  It was a fateful decision both in terms of her professional and personal life, for there she met Frances Loring (1887-1968), in 1905, also a future sculptor and her lifelong companion.

Wyle taught modeling in clay at the Art Institute from 1906 to 1909, receiving a commission from the Institute in 1907. Briefly in New York City, she moved to Toronto to join Loring there in 1913. They would live in Toronto, making their studio from a converted church, until their deaths in 1968.

Canada was little interested in sculpture at the time, and the two women, much a part of Canadian society and art activities, were ardent advocates of the medium as sculptors, participants on artists' juries, and membership in arts organizations like the Ontario Society of Artists, and Sculptor's Society of Canada.  Wyle became an Associate member of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1920, an Academician in 1938, when she was the first female sculptor to receive the honor (Loring was also an Associate in 1920, an Academician in 1947). Affectionately known as "The Girls," they encouraged other young women sculptors to follow their artistic destinies.

In 1962, the London (Ontario) Public Library and Art Museum organized "Fifty Years of Sculpture," a traveling retrospective exhibition showcasing Loring and Wyle.  This exhibition provided Canadians with an opportunity to view the work of two of this country's most talented and respected sculptors.

Stylistically, Wyle's sculpture can suggest the influences of other sculptors like Augustus Saint-Gaudens, F. W. MacMonnies, and Aristide Maillol. Though she had a feeling for materials and idealized, polished surfaces, Wyle was a representational sculptor, not an abstractionist. Loring's sculpture, also representational, was modeled in stronger, broader planes.

Wyle's bronze of a standing farm-worker tilting back his head to drink from a jug, "The Harvester," 1938, is in the collection of the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Guelph, Ontario. Her bronze "Young Girl," 1938, a torso of a nude girl, stands in the Loring/Wyle Parkette, part of the City of Toronto public art collection.  Sculpture by Wyle (and Loring) stand atop the dome of St. Anne's Anglican Church, a national historic site in Toronto.

Writings about the two sculptors include Rebecca Sisler's "The Girls: A Biography of Frances Loring and Florence Wyle", published in 1972; and Christine Boyanoski's "Loring and Wyle: Sculptors' Legacy", published in 1987.

Interestingly, or oddly, both Wyle and Loring, so close in life and art for so long, died three weeks apart in the same year, 1968.

The work of both Wyle and Loring was essentially ignored following their deaths, until their estates donated works to the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto, which put on a major show and printed a catalogue in 1987.

Each had a clause in her will whereby proceeds from the sale of their works would be added to a fund set up to purchase work by young sculptors.  These works were to be displayed in public galleries across Canada.  This fund, as well as their rich body of work, has had a significant impact on the art of sculpture in this country and continues to inspire both admirers and artists alike.

A more detailed bibliography includes:

Boyanoski, Christine. -- Loring and Wyle : Sculptors' Legacy. -- Toronto : Art Gallery of Ontario, 1987. -- xx, 139 p.

Huneault, Khristina. -- "Heroes of a Different Sort : Gender and Patriotism in the War Workers of Frances Loring and Florence Wyle". -- Journal of Canadian Art History. -- Vol. 15, no. 6 (1993). -- P. 26-49

Leslie, Cassandra. -- Canadian Sculpture : Coming of Age [online]. -- Canada's digital collections. c1998. -- [Cited April 29, 2002]. -- Access: http://collections.ic.gc.ca/sculpture/

Loring and Wyle [motion picture]. -- Director, Christopher Chapman. -- Toronto : Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1965. -- (Telescope)

Sisler, Rebecca. -- Florence Wyle, 1881-1968. -- Toronto : Dundurn Press, 1978. -- [4] p. -- (Lives and works of the Canadian artists ; 20)

____. -- Frances Loring, 1887-1968. -- Toronto : Dundurn Press, 1978. -- [4] p. -- (Lives and works of the Canadian artists ; 18)

____. -- The Girls : A Biography of Frances Loring and Florence Wyle. -- Toronto : Clarke, Irwin, 1972. -- 120 p.



Source:
Jules and Nancy Heller, "North American Women Artists of the 20th Century"
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