Lynne Lawner was born in Ohio. A graduate of Wellesley College with a PhD from Columbia University, Lawner has been a Henry Fellow at Cambridge University, three times a Fulbright Research Scholar in Italy, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, an American Association of University Women Fellow, a Fellow of the Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies (Villa “I Tatti”), a Radcliffe Institute Fellow, a Gladys Delmas Fellow in Venice, and a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. She has been a Visiting Professor at UCLA and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She has lectured at Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Vassar, Connecticut College for Women, Indiana University, and many museums and institutions including Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, the Bard Center for the Decorative Arts, the Chicago Art Institute, the Dayton Art Institute, the Italian Cultural Institutes in New York, Chicago, and Washington, the New York Harvard Club, Yale Drama School, and the National Arts Club. A few years ago, for the Smithsonian Associates, she devised a seminar based on her own photographs, entitled “From Sans Souci to Schoenbrunn: Great Castles, Palaces, and Gardens of Central Europe”.
Lawner’s fine art photography, a relatively recent development and passion in her life, has grown out of the same humus as her poetry. Her visual work is now in distinguished collections such as those of Gioconda Leykauf and Fabio Castelli. After showing her work at the inaugural edition of the MIA-Fair, Superstudio Più, Milan, Italy, she had an exhibition at Edelweiss Gallery, Sils Maria, Switzerland. On June 15, 2014, a new show will open at Chesa Salis Gallery in Bever, Switzerland. An artist’s edition of poems and images—harmoniously matched but not necessarily dependent on each other, designed by Lawner together with Castelli, her curator, and graphics artist Francesco Dondina, is forthcoming.
Lawner has published seven books, including two collections of poetry, Wedding Night of A Nun (Atlantic) and Triangle Dream (Harper’s) and three volumes on art and cultural history: Lives of the Courtesans: Portraits of the Renaissance (Rizzoli Int’l., Rizzoli Milan), “I Modi”. The Sixteen Pleasures: An Erotic Album of the Italian Renaissance (Northwestern UP, Peter Owen [London], Longanesi [Milan], Temas de Hoy [Barcelona], Livraria Martin Fontes [São Paolo], and Harlequin on the Moon: Commedia dell’Arte and the Visual Arts (Harry N. Abrams). She has produced two major translations from the Italian: Letters from Prison of Antonio Gramsci (Harper’s, Jonathan Cape, Quartet Books, repr. Farrar Straus-Noonday) and Painted Fire: Selected Poems by Maria Luisa Spaziani (Chelsea Editions).
Lawner’s articles on France, Italy, and Switzerland have appeared in The Sophisticated Traveler, New York Times Sunday Travel Section, and Food and Wine, accompanied by her photos. A voting member of the National Book Critics Circle, her reviews have appeared in NYTBR, Philadelphia Inquirer, LATBR, Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. She had been a contributing cultural editor of the national newspaper US/Italia Weekly. Her articles on art exhibitions have been printed in Art News and other magazines. Her catalogue essays about contemporary artists are included in books from Charta and other houses. Her translations of Italian poetry, published in books and journals such as Penguin Book of Women Poets, Modern European Poets, Yale Italian Poetry, Gradiva, Chelsea, Italian Poetry Journal, continue to appear. in 2013, her translations of Italian poet and film-maker Nelo Risi were included in Journal of Italian Poetry.
Lawner is a member of the American PEN Center Translation Committee and a former judge of the Modern Language Association non-fiction book prize. She has won prizes of her own for her poetry, among these the Oscar Blumenthal Prize from Poetry magazine. She has been a resident in the creative arts at Yaddo.
Lawner speaks five languages and has appeared frequently on television in both the United States and abroad. The novelist Umberto Eco presented her book Lives of the Courtesans at USIS in Milan, and a festival in Rimini dedicated to the Adriatic Sea took the book as its theme, offering a related costumes exhibition.