Lasansky custom-designs own exhibit
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art staff doesn't have to second guess how Maurico Lasansky would have displayed his collection.
Unlike most of the artists represented in the museum's galleries, Lasansky is here to show them.
The Iowa City artist relishes working with four galleries customed-designed for him. The museum relishes having an internationally known printmaker custom-design his own exhibit.
It's a wonderful combination.
Lasansky's new exhibit opened to the public Saturday, one year alter the new museum opened with one-fourth of its space devoted to its in-depth Lasansky collection.
Lasansky says people should question the work, question themselves, and ask "What did he mean?"
They won't get much help from him. Lasansky doesn't like to explain his artwork.
But he will leak information.
He tears pages from the Iowa City phone hook for use in his drawing-collages, he says, because they are what he wants visually. He likes their "tonality" and how they gray from a distance.
BUT THEY ALSO provide a common demoninator, he says. Anybody and everybody, rich and poor, is in the phone hook.
Lasansky often has used pages from the Bible for similar effect; however, he says the pages and verses are chosen at random.
The first Lasansky gallery is the biggest and displays 21 dramatic full-scale drawings. "Isn't this just mind-boggling? Look at this room," a visitor marveled during a members' reception Friday evening.
The room includes a balance of serious and whimsical pieces. Many of the people have close-set eyes like Lasansky's, or mouths full of teeth.
While viewing his "Honey Mooners," depicting a scantily-clad woman on the shoulders of a banjo-playing man, he comments: "What's better than music, fun and private?"
There are six self-portraits in the room. One is his "Self-Portrait Mexico" (1973) which pictures him as a tourist with camera. His tie and shirt are cut from the Sunday funnies in a Mexican newspaper.
"We need to have a lot of fun, too. Otherwise we can't survive," says the softspoken native of Argentina.
The title of his exhibit is "A Vision of the Human Labyrinth," reflecting his personal philosophy that life is a complicated maze but that there is always a way out.
"Nothing is free in this life. At least I've never found it yet. That's part of the fun of living," says the man Time magazine once called "the nation's most influential printmaker."
AT 76, LASANSKY is working more than he ever has. He says he's making up for the 50 years he taught at the University of Iowa.
Many of the works added to the exhibit are recent. A 1989 series of drawings is a theme and variation on a ballerina, his daughter Marie. The artist chose to highlight the series so that people could attempt to "get into the mind of an artist."
And it shows, he says, that it's not easy. "It's sweat and a lot of work," he says.
Reprinted from The Cedar Rapids Gazette, December 14, 1990 (Cedar Rapids, Iowa).
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