Leanne Shapton

Portrait Leanne Shapton
© Carlos Serrao

Leanne Shapton was born in 1973 in Toronto. She studied at McGill University in Montreal and at Pratt Institute in New York. Among other things, she worked as editor and art director at the »National Post« and as an illustrator for the »New York Magazine«, and was art director at the »New York Times« from 2008-2009. In 2000 she and the photographer Jason Fulford founded the J&L Books imprint, which specialised in art and photography. In addition she also works as an illustrator and designs book covers, among others for Knopf and John Murray, as well as film titles and DVD covers.

Her first book, »Toronto« (2003), was a collection of drawings in which Leanne Shapton worked through her homesickness during her time in London. Many of the drawings are based on photographs of her home and deal with issues of abandonment and memory. Her graphic novel »Was She Pretty?« (2006) shows a series of fictitious ex-lovers, each one captioned with one or two epigrammatic sentences. The book is a collection of those apparently incidental characteristics of people which stick in the memory. Her ability to create rounded figures with just a few lines, words and photographs is evident once again in her most recent work, »Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry« (2009). This book was inspired by a catalogue from the New York auction house Bonhams listing private items once belonging to Truman Capote. She made fictional use of the realization that these belongings formed a very precise picture of the last years of Capote’s life. She created a fictional auctioneer’s catalogue offering photographs, cinema ticket stubs, clothes and little notes, among other things, and uses these items to tell the love story of her protagonists Leonore and Harold – »the invention of a new literary form«, according to the »Zeit Magazin«. In contemplating the objects of other people’s intimacy we are not only looking at the owners and reconstructing their relationship, we are also, of course, looking into ourselves.

Leanne Shapton is currently working on a book for the Drawn & Quarterly publishing house. The author lives in New York.