Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Fall 2006 Newsletter

In the Galleries

The Ransom Center opens two new exhibitions that run from September 5 through December 31, 2006.


Norman Mailer at a Vietnam War protest at the
bandshell in Central Park.
Photograph by Maury Englander. March 26, 1966.

Norman Mailer Takes On America

Paul Theroux has described the literary world that existed in the two decades after World War II as "an age when writers were powerful, priest-like, remote and elusive. They were risk takers and romantics, lovably disreputable, seldom interviewed but often whispered about." Not so Norman Mailer, who was a key figure in the transition to writer as public figure. This post-war period was also an age of literary censorship, the Cold War and McCarthyism, advances in civil rights and social programs, and bitter opposition to the Vietnam War.

Drawing on the recently acquired Norman Mailer archive, the exhibition sets the career of Norman Mailer in this cultural context and traces the central role he has played in our awareness and understanding of what Morris Dickstein calls the "shocks of history, politics, and contemporary life" that reshaped the last half of the twentieth century and continue to unsettle the twenty-first.


Wystan Hugh (W. H.) Auden (1907-1973)
Oil on canvas, 1961
40 x 32 inches
© Trustees of the Feliks Topolski Estate.

The Ransom Center opens two new exhibitions that run from September 5 through December 31, 2006.

Feliks Topolski: Portraits of Britain's Twentieth-Century Literary Greats

Polish-born British artist Feliks Topolski (1907-1989) chronicled many of the twentieth-century's most significant people and associated historical events. Topolski embraced modernism's inventive freedoms but worked at the edge of its mainstream, thanks in part to his bold expressionist style that brought acclaim, as well as controversy.

Because of its interest in British literary portraiture, in 1959, the Ransom Center commissioned the artist to paint a portrait series of great living British writers and playwrights. The commission of "British Greats" included the portraits of, among others, W. H. Auden, Ivy Compton-Burnett, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, Graham Greene, Aldous Huxley, John Osborne, J. B. Priestley, Bertrand Russell, C. P. Snow, Stephen Spender, Edith Sitwell, Evelyn Waugh, and Rebecca West.

This exhibition brings together, for the first time, all twenty paintings from the original commission, enabling the Ransom Center to display Topolski's stunning and controversial work.  

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