Corn and Bison Skulls Frieze

True Prairie Deco: Lee Lawrie’s ornate, prairie-themed frieze featuring Bison Skulls and Bushels of Corn on the North Facade of the Nebraska State Capitol

Philosopher and Poet, Los Angeles Public Library

Lawrie’s North facade of the Los Angeles Public Library featuring the Philosopher and the Poet, flanking the Seal of the City of Los Angeles.  1927

Documenting the Life and Sculpture of Lee Oskar Lawrie (1877-1963)

Lee Lawrie was a titan in the world of 20th Century American Art, creating Architectural Sculpture from Coast-to-Coast, for Seven Decades. Among his credits, he was a pioneer of American Art Deco.  Yet the world barely knows who he was or the magnitude of his contribution to 20th Century American Art.

The purpose of this site is to change all that, and identify, discuss, show and tell of the enormous presence of uncredited, unrecognized and/or forgotten footprint he left behind.

Unlike most artists, the majority of Lawrie’s work is public art, that cannot be physically collected and displayed in a single gallery.  To see it firsthand requires great amounts of travel, and research, such as I have undertaken over the better part of the past two decades. is the result of nearly two decades of research, travel, photography and writing.  It is a virtual museum of Lawrie’s Art, in lieu of a single exhibition.

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Lee Lawrie’s Prairie Deco: History in Stone at the Nebraska State Capitol, 4th Edition

BRAND NEW! Improved!

 Lee Lawrie’s Prairie Deco:

This book, Lee Lawrie’s Prairie Deco: is the first book written exclusively about Lawrie’s Largest Architectural Sculpture Commission in his career, which spanned from the Gaslight Era until the Space Age. It captures all of the sculpture he created for the Nebraska Capitol, explains its symbolism to Nebraska’s History and culture, and tells the story of Democracy itself, introduced into the region by its European settlers in the 19th Century.

Lee Lawrie’s Prairie Deco is a lavishly-illustrated, well-written, non-fiction result of nearly two decade’s worth of research on how Lawrie’s Largest Collection of Art Deco Sculpture anywhere on earth came together on one of the America’s most beautiful, Art Deco Palaces, half a continent away, from where it was conceived and designed, in his studio in Harlem during the heart of the Jazz Age and the onset of the Great Depression.
“Prairie Deco” is the term I use to convey the sense of Lee Lawrie’s explosively imaginative and creative marriage of Art Deco with Regionalism: infusing Art Deco with Prairie iconography, to tell the story of Nebraska’s History in Indiana Limestone and Bronze. picture inside of PRAIRIE DECO tells a story, and these are a glorious homage to the Native Americans Tribes, who first lived in the State, and the Institutions of Government and Democracy that the Europeans brought with them as they settled the State
The Capitol was also originally intended to serve as a memorial to the nearly 800 Nebraskans who died “over there” during the so-called “War to End All Wars.”
The book also relates the fate that awaited the Native Americans, as the early explorers, the fur trappers, railroads, homesteaders and penetrated and settled this portion of the Great Plains.

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Book Review from the Chicago Art Deco Society, Spring 2018

Book Review
Chicago Art Deco Society' Magazine, Spring 2018 Book Review


Alexander spent much of his youth as a “printer’s devil” for his father’s Syracuse, Nebraska newspaper. As such, he developed a Populist sentiment, here suggesting that if citizens ignore their government, the government will go unchecked and act unaccountably.



Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue’s 1927 Los Angeles Public Library, featuring sculpture by Lee Lawrie.

 GIGAPANS are essentially like a patchwork quilt, stitched together using a technology developed by Carnegie-Melon University around the mid 2000s.

Over the years, in many of the cities where Lawrie’s sculpture is located on buildings. I’ve shot many of these, and often do so to reveal the depth of detail that is missed in a low resolution photograph.
Lawrie’s sculpture is overflowing with minor details, and each of them took time for him to shape by hand, cast in plaster, and then either have cast in bronze or carved into stone.

These are digital images, for which I shoot a grid of telephoto images to capture detail, then use AutoPano software or Gigapan Software by Kolor to stitch them together. I now use Photoshop some of the time, but AutoPano and Gigapan are better for this purpose. I find Photoshop fine for creating panoramas, but it doesn’t seem to match the quality of the Kolor product, as readily, or if it does, I haven’t mastered it yet.

And here is another one, not in the existing gallery


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Gigapan Photos (Ultra High Resolution Images) of Lee Lawrie's Architectural Sculpture


YouTube Video of Lawrie's 1936 Portfolio, <em>Sculpture,</em> ©1936, J.H. Jansen, Cleveland, Ohio.

Pioneer Panel, Nebraska State Capitol.

The Spirit of the Pioneers on the North Portal of the Nebraska State Capitol