Exhibit putting Lasansky print legacy on display
Mauricio Lasansky had a gift for etching intricate and beautiful designs, and supporters of the artist's work hope an exhibit opening this week will leave impressions on the minds a new generation.
"Mauricio Lasansky and the First Generation" opening today features works by Lasansky as well as former University of Iowa students who were among the first wave of pupils influenced by Lasansky's revolutionary printmaking.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1914, Lasansky won international awards for his work by age 22. In 1943, Lasansky received a Guggenheim Fellowship -- the first of five in his career -- which he used to travel to the United States. In 1945, he was invited to teach at the University of Iowa, where he worked until 1984.
Exhibit organizers said that through innovating techniques and deep knowledge of the humanities and international culture, Lasansky established UI as a national destination for aspiring printmakers and designers.
"And that is a legacy that has continued with us over the decades, even since his retirement," said John Beldon Scott, director of the School of Art and Art History. While at UI, Scott said Lasansky raised the profile of printmaking as an artistic medium while also being among the first academics to confer Master of Fine Arts degrees.
"I think one can say that (Lasansky's) point is that a printmaker can be an artist in his or her own right in that medium exclusively," Scott said. "You don't have to be a painter who also does printmaking on the side . . . You can just do printmaking and be a major artist."
In addition to Lasansky's works, the exhibit opening today will feature prints by distinguished pupils Lee Chesney, Barbara Fumagalli, Arthur Levine, Janet K. Ruttenberg and Donn Steward.
Like all of Lasansky's students, those featured in the exhibit were required to submit self-portrait prints before being accepted into Lasansky's program.
Before accepting students into his program, Scott said, Lasansky would ask them to submit self-portraits.
"And that would be a kind of litmus test he would apply to whether or not he felt that student felt sufficient potential to work with him," Scott said. "I would say it requires technical skills, interpretation, some kind of emotional component, perhaps some technical innovation."
Further understanding Lasansky's process for selecting his students will be one of many questions addressed at the exhibit, Scott said.
"There are all kinds of possibilities," he said. "But we'll try to retrieve the answer." Reach Chase Castle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 887-5412.
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Reprinted from The Iowa City Press Citizen,
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