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Mauricio Lasansky:  Thematic Retrospectives

The Nazi Drawings

Dignity is not a symbol bestowed on man, nor does the word itself possess force. Man's dignity is a force and the only modus vivendi by which man and his history survive. When mid-twentieth century Germany did not let man live and die with this right, man became an animal. No matter how technologically advanced or sophisticated, when man negates this divine right, he not only becomes self-destructive, but castrates his history and poisons our future. This is what The Nazi Drawings are about.

     -Mauricio Lasansky, 1966


"The Nazi Drawings" examine the brutality of Nazi Germany. They are a powerful expression of the profound disgust and outrage Mauricio Lasansky felt after viewing a US Military documentary showing the victims and aftermath of Nazi atrocities.

The artist worked intensively for six years to create the series, which consists of thirty individual pieces and one tryptich. The drawings were created with lead pencil, water- and turpentine-based washes, and collage on common commercial paper. "I tried to keep not only the vision of The Nazi Drawings simple and direct but also the materials I used in making them. I wanted them to be done with a tool used by everyone everywhere. From the cradle to the grave, meaning the pencil. I felt if I could use a tool like that, this would keep me away from the virtuosity that a more sophisticated medium would demand."

The figures in the drawings are lifesize and larger in dimension.

Since their completion, The Nazi Drawings have been exhibited in many prominent art museums, and have received widespread public attention. In 1967, The Nazi Drawings, along with shows by Louise Nevelson and Andrew Wyeth, were the first exhibits installed at the new Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

Lines wrapped around the block with people awaiting entrance to the exhibition. Articles were published about The Nazi Drawings in Time and Look magazines as well as The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. The Nazi Drawings continue to connect on a highly visual and deeply emotional level with observers of all ages.

The Richard Levitt Foundation purchased The Nazi Drawings in 1969, and they now reside at The University of Iowa Museum of Art. They continue to travel to other museums every few years and occasionally can be seen on display in the Lasansky Gallery at the Museum.

In the Fall of 1997, Iowa City filmmaker Lane Wyrick, in collaboration with Phillip Lasansky as content advisor, began The Nazi Drawings Documentary Project with grants from the University of Iowa Foundation, Richard & Jeanne S. Levitt of Minneapolis, Marvin & Rose Lee Pomerantz of Des Moines, and Webster & Gloria Gelman of Iowa City. Filming and production continued for three years, and in April of 2000 The Nazi Drawings Documentary premiered at the Levitt Center for University Advancement in Iowa City. Information on the documentary, and additional background and history on The Nazi Drawings themselves, can be found at The Nazi Drawings Web Site.

A complete tour and analysis of The Nazi Drawings is available here. The tour presents the enlarged images of the drawings in sequence, including the final "Triptych" completed in 1967.



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