Photo credit: From the Lilly Library collections, this image features Clifford Odets, circa 1962.
Indiana University is celebrating a $1.2 million gift by Walt Whitman Odets to the IU Libraries' Lilly Library, one of the nation's premiere rare book and manuscript libraries. The collection of over 450 paintings by his late father, Clifford Odets, is evidence that this iconic American playwright, screenwriter, and director was not limited to the written and spoken word.
The addition of his paintings to the Lilly Library’s collections continues a longtime interest on the part of the library in writers who are also artists, represented not only by archival holdings of the writings and artworks of such luminaries as Sylvia Plath and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., but also by its vast holdings in artists’ books and fine bindings.
The Lilly Library is already the home of an impressive archive of Odets’ written work, including extensive correspondence spanning his career, drafts of such landmark dramatic works as Clash by Night and Golden Boy, and drafts of screenplays of iconic films such as The Big Knife and The Sweet Smell of Success. Other drafts include films on which Odets worked that were later turned over to other writers, such as It’s a Wonderful Life.
Cherry Williams is the Curator of Manuscripts at the Lilly Library. She said, "Since 1992, the Lilly Library has been home to a rich and extensive archival collection of the literary works of the iconic American playwright Clifford Odets. With this extraordinarily generous gift by Dr. Odets, we will now be able to provide researchers, as well as interested members of the general public, with broad access to the full spectrum of the works and talent of Clifford Odets."
Walt Whitman Odets is a practicing clinical psychologist with a background in photography and aviation. Dr. Odets shared that he selected the Lilly Library for his gift, in part, because of its “mid-western spirit of openness." In that spirit of openness, the Lilly Library is proud to welcome the Clifford Odets paintings to their new home, with sincere gratitude to Dr. Odets for sharing his father's artistic gift with the world. Two samples of his work are shown on this page. Read more on the Lilly Library Blog.