This portrait from the seminal artist Artis Lane is one of the many unique portraits she has painted of notable people she has known in her long and illustrious career. The subject is "Baby Jane" Holzer, a member of Andy Warhol superstars and an art collector and film producer in her own right. She appeared in several Andry Warhol's films including "Soap Opera", "Couch", "Batman Dracula", and "Camp", eventually branching out to produce films of her own such as "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and was the subject of the Tom Wolfe essay "Girl of the Year" and referenced in "Virginia Plain" by Roxy Music. Ms. Lane was a much sought after portrait painter. "Baby Jane Holzer" is a portrait of one of her many creative artistic Hollywood acquaintances when she lived in California.
Most recently in January 2021 Ms. Lanes' dynamic sculpture bust of Rosa Parks was chosen from the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC to reside in the President's Oval Office as a reminder to all who visit or see it via press photographs of her courageous demand for equal rights. It is a constant source of inspiration.
All my life I have worked on three levels of consciousness: Portraits, Social Injustice & Metaphysics. In my work I strive to heal, uplift and inspire viewers and collectors to find perfection in their own being. - Artis Lane
Artis Lane lived and worked in Los Angeles for over twenty years. She knew many celebrities, movie stars and individuals who moved in those circles. She was a sought after portrait painter. This particular painting, "Untitled", shows why. Artis has captured the personal essence of her subject. It is warm, friendly, relaxed and covered in a golden glow. The green diagonals keep the eye moving around the painting and leads the viewer to the intimate expression on the subject's face drawing one into her private space.
Born Artis Marie Shreve in 1927, near an all-Black village in North Buxton, Ontario, Canada. After three years of art college in Toronto, Canada, Artis moved to Detroit where she met and married journalist and activist Bill Lane. In Detroit Artis Lane continued her training at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Cranbrook was designed by architect and faculty member, Eliel Saarinen who collaborated with Charles and Ray Eames on chair and furniture design. Numerous creative artists who are alumni of Cranbrook include: Harry Bertoia, Florence Knoll, Jack Lenor Larsen, Donald Lipski, Duane Hanson, Nick Cave, Hani Rashid, George Nelson, Urban Jupena (Nationally recognized fiber artist), Cory Puhlman (televised Pastry Chef extraordinaire), Thom O’Connor (Lithographs), Paul Evans (Brutalist-inspired sculpted metal furnishings), Eugene Caples (small bronze images/abstract), Morris Brose (Bronze Sculptures), Herb Babcock known for blown glass) and Larry Butcher (mixed media abstract artist.)
While in the Motor City she painted and sculpted the portraits of many of the business and political leaders of the day; Governor George Romney, Ford family members and Coleman Young, the Mayor of Detroit. After her divorce, she was invited by Diahann Carroll to move from Detroit to come live in New York City where she met and married, Vince Cannon. They spent time in Texas, Ruidoso, New Mexico and traveled to Mexico City, Mexico to paint many of the prominent families in the region. Eventually she settled in Los Angeles and has recently relocated to Detroit.
Her portrait and sculpture work has depicted dignitaries like Jaqueline Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Gordon Getty, President Reagan, President Obama, First Ladies, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, Mrs. Walter Annenberg, Nancy Kissinger, including her most recent portrait commissioned by Academy Award winner, Jaime Fox. It’s an elegant painting of Oprah Winfrey, which was unveiled live on her show. Artis Lane has sculpted Don Cornelius, Quincy Jones, Lupita Nyong’o, Lena Horne, Stevie Wonder, and Magic Johnson, and many more.
In the 1970’s, social issues became the next focus of her work, which included “Tear on the Face of America,” her civil rights statement, and “The Beginning,” a now famous painting depicting a young Rosa Parks seated in the fateful bus. Artis was honored by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC during the installation of her bronze sculpture of civil rights leader and longtime friend, Rosa Parks. In 1999, she was selected to execute and design the Congressional Medal of Honor awarded to Ms. Parks.
“My Civil Rights images led me naturally to ideas about what and who we are outside of race.
I went from there to the most important body of work, the metaphysical images of generic man and generic woman emerging out of the ignorance of material concepts and evolving into spiritual awareness.” Artis Lane.
The bigger challenge was to create art that could symbolize and communicate certain spiritual truths that have guided Lane’s life and creative endeavors for most of her adult years and led to her Metaphysical work. She leaves the workings of the foundry: the gaiting material, ceramic shell mold, etc., (the “birthing” materials of the foundry), on the bronze to symbolize generic man emerging out of material thinking into spiritual consciousness. She then shows the work in pairs… the traditional black patina bronze, with the ceramic shell pieces as a metaphor for the moralistic/materialistic conversations that mankind has wrestled with throughout eternity.
The new millennium brought new challenges and celebrations of her work. At the age of 80, Lane was commissioned to create a 12ft bronze of her “Emerging First Man.” The sculpture was created for an 1100 acre private estate community in Atlanta, GA. In 2007, she was honored by The California African American Museum with a retrospective of her life’s work which included almost 100 works of art. In 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled Lane’s bust of Abolitionist and Suffragette, Sojourner Truth, which was the first African American woman to be installed in the new Emancipation Hall and is now a part of the collection of the United States Capitol.
Ms. Lane’s solo exhibit, “The Art of Artis Lane,” at the Forest Lawn Museum, Glendale, Ca in 2011, brought a thought provoking retrospective of her art to the public including the “Divine Metaphysics” series. Her bust of Arnett Hartsfield, Jr., Pioneering Firefighter & Activist, unveiled at The African American Firefighter Museum in Los Angeles in 2012. The California African American Museum in Los Angeles, mounted a retrospective exhibition entitled “A Woman’s Journey: The Life and Work of Artis Lane” in 2007/2008 and subsequently honored her with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Lane presented an official portrait of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, which was unveiled at City Hall by Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014. All are merely a few recognitions of her achievements over the decades. Lane’s HistoryMakers interview was made a permanent part of the Library of Congress Collection in 2014. Her Artwork is displayed around the world.
Artis has been a constant presence at the openings of her artistic colleagues in the region. As one of the honored “elders,” she provides encouragement and support for the younger African American artists who strive to use their own talents to express visions of social, ethical, and spiritual importance. She is, in short a force of nature whose life and work have graced both her native Canada and her adopted United States.