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Old 09-01-2011, 12:08 PM
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James verDoorn James verDoorn is offline
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September Artist: Mauricio Lasansky

This month I want us to take a look at the draftsman and printmaker Mauricio Lasansky. Although he created a wide variety of masterful prints and drawings throughout his lifetime I am going to focus our attention on one series he created called “The Nazi Drawings”. The images are powerful and often disturbing as they examine the atrocities and brutality of Nazi Germany.

The Nazi Drawings consist of thirty individual drawings and one triptych... thirty three images in all... created over a period of six years. The drawings are life size... some over six feet.... and are created with pencil, water and turpentine washes as well as collage.

In 1967, “The Nazi Drawings” was one of the first exhibits at the then new Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and since then have become widely known and exhibited throughout the world.


These are but three samples from the series. I urge you to visit the link below and view “The Nazi Drawings”series in it’s entirety.... there is a brief verbal description accompanying each image that is interesting and informative.

http://www.lasanskyart.com/art/colle...ngs/nd_1.shtml

There is also an Emmy award winning documentary created about “The Nazi Drawings”. A brief preview is available but I must warn you that there are a few seconds of film from the death camps included that are very graphic. Here is the link:

http://www.nazidrawings.com

Mauricio Lasansky was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1914. He came to the United States in 1943 and became a U.S. Citizen in 1952. Although he would today be 97, I cannot find any on-line references of his death.

Lasansky is regarded as one of the masters of modern american printmaking. He has been the recipient of a total of five Guggenheim Fellowships, six honorary Doctorate of Arts degrees and numerous prizes and special honors. His work is represented in more than one hundred public collections including virtually every major museum in the United States. Internationally recognized, he has been exhibited throughout North and South America, Europe and Russia.

I have introduced you to “The Nazi Series” but I don’t want to leave you with the impression that that’s all there is to his work. Surprisingly, while there are many examples of his work scattered about the web, there seems to be only one site devoted exclusively to his art.

http://www.lasanskyart.com

It’s a comprehensive site but one of the most poorly designed artist’s websites I have ever come across. Never-the-less.... it’s well worth your time to discover more about one of our great printmakers.

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Old 09-03-2011, 11:54 AM
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Re: September Artist: Mauricio Lasansky

An interesting choice for the month and it is very nice to see another printmaker, I think we have only had one other in this series.

For me, his work is difficult to view because he captures the utter brutality and deprivation of that horrible period of history and the inhumanity that can exist amidst us. Still, in my humble opinion, we need to look; we must never forget.

Link to the artist from August

Last edited by ~JON : 09-20-2011 at 02:11 PM.
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Old 09-04-2011, 02:43 PM
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Re: September Artist: Mauricio Lasansky

Quote:
Originally Posted by ~JON
An interesting choice for the month and it is very nice to see another printmaker, I think we have only had one other in this series.

For me, his work is difficult to view because he captures the utter brutality and deprivation of that horrible period of history and the inhumanity that can exist amidst us. Still, in my humble opinion, we need to look; we must never forget.

Good Morning Jon, I agree with you... his work is difficult to look at. But I think most will agree that art can be more than just something pretty to hang on the wall. True art... art that transcends... is a reflection of the artist.... which can, at it's best, be a powerful reflection of the human condition. And that human condition includes not only living and loving but also suffering and death.

Thanks for posting your comment.
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Old 09-05-2011, 12:19 PM
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Re: September Artist: Mauricio Lasansky

Hi James, Thanks for posting this..I had a good look at the drawings and short clip..its harrowing stuff but necessary to ensure that that period in time is never forgiven and forgotten about.
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:07 AM
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Re: September Artist: Mauricio Lasansky

Disturbing prints but that's what the subject is...disturbing. I looked around for other types of his art on his site. I like Spring (1947)
http://www.lasanskyart.com/art/image...P_47_076.shtml
Thanks for introducing him to me.
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:26 AM
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Re: September Artist: Mauricio Lasansky

Hi Katie.... yes, it is harrowing... very difficult to look at. But it's also evidence of his powerful talent as a draftsman.

Raven... I am so glad you also took the time to explore his work further. He is a masterful printmaker and the example you site illustrates that point well.
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Old 09-07-2011, 02:11 PM
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Re: September Artist: Mauricio Lasansky

wow- i have read many books on the holocaust- so i understand this work immediately- (unusual-lol) i love it!! i know its a serious subject but i think its mindbloowingly awesome- thanks so much for sharing this
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Old 09-09-2011, 12:01 PM
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Re: September Artist: Mauricio Lasansky

Hi Kate252... I believe Lasansky is one of America's greats. He deserves a wider audience. I'm glad you were able to view and appreciate his work.
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Old 09-09-2011, 08:00 PM
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Re: September Artist: Mauricio Lasansky

I looked at the first six of his Nazi drawings and that was enough. It's good to have such reminders that human beings actually perpetrated such atrocities, but it's something that I learned about long ago and don't need reminders of it before my eyes any more. The memory is not about to leave me.

Still, I checked out almost all of his other works shown at lasanskyart.com. It confirmed what I expected from your other examples and from Raven's link to "Spring". This man is one very depressed person. His "Spring" alone could have told me that. What a depressing vision of spring. Seriously, would any of you ever depict “Spring” in such a depressing way?

And speaking of "vision", one of his works is titled "Vision".

http://www.lasanskyart.com/art/image...P_56_093.shtml

I picture it as a vision of death.

He made prints of his children. One of his son is here...

http://www.lasanskyart.com/art/image...P_59_098.shtml

One of his daughter is here...

http://www.lasanskyart.com/art/image...P_59_100.shtml

What depressing images of one's children. I'm glad he wasn't my father. I may have become seriously psychotic by the time I was old enough to leave home. At least that thought makes me appreciate my own father more.

He is great at portraying unique character traits in his portraits. But he tends to give his subjects very restrained looks, as if they either have to be as depressed as he is, or he controls his creations so that they at least appear that way.

I found one portrait in which the lady seems to have somewhat of a smile on her face. She also seems to be having a bit of fun with a derby. Here it is:

http://www.lasanskyart.com/art/image...P_78_150.shtml

But my overall impression is that Lasansky is saying that being happy is a sin. To smile is a sin. I don’t think I found another, even partial, smile in any of his works at that site.

He seemed to be lightening up, figuratively and literally, when I reached his “Objects in Space” series (1979). Then I looked at one of those thumbnails enlarged, to see a skeletal arm and hand in front of a blood red background.

One person whom I imagine smiled less than most people is Abraham Lincoln, and for good reason. Lasansky seemed to hold a special place for him, since I came across four portraits of him. I believe Lincoln was a very grim person. I wonder if Lincoln’s grimness was part of the appeal to Lasansky. The first two portraits are titled “Lincoln”. He looks half-dead in the first one, and grim, of course. He’s still grim in the second one, but at least he looks more alive. In the third one, Lincoln looks like the walking dead, like a zombie with skin coming loose. Lasansky calls him “Abe” in that one, perhaps feeling close to a like soul after so much association with him by this print (1988). In the fourth (1996), Abe has come back to life again, but it’s still a grim atmosphere to the whole composition.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, he does begin to rely more on slightly livelier colors. He even starts to use other than his usual green for skin tones. Most are still grim, nonetheless. In 1992 he did a series titled “Maria de Los Angeles”, each distinguished by a different dominant color. Each is the same frontal portrait of a young lady, with both eyes forward. By the looks of the six thumbnails, I thought this series portraying the same subject done in different colors might be interesting, so I took a look. All the eyes are just black pits. And all look grim and depressing, even in the one with skin tone nearest to real.

Lasansky is certainly noteworthy for his printmaking skills. I would add that he’s also noteworthy for his portrayal of character traits. I would further add that an atmosphere of grimness and depression dominates most of his works, even if one excludes his “Nazi Drawings”. It dominates in most of his portraits. His flavors of colors also usually reflect the same atmosphere.

I can find depressing things easily enough on a daily basis. Each day of fresh news is commonly full of depressing things. I usually look at and create art to give my world something more refreshing. Lasansky has now filled a few hours of one of my days. Life is too short for me to spend any more of it in such a depressing atmosphere. Now back to my fun with fractal creations!
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Old 09-11-2011, 11:48 AM
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Re: September Artist: Mauricio Lasansky

Desrat... I can’t speak to wheather Lasansky was depressed or not. We can never walk in another man’s shoes. I think, however, that it’s too harsh to imply he thought being happy was a sin.

Even on this day, when we are honoring the thousands of victims of 9/11, it is fitting that we still remember and respect the millions of victims of the holocaust. Their deaths at the hands of the Nazis deserve our commeration. Lasansky commerated their suffering in the only way he could... thru his art. Viewing all if his drawings, no matter how troubling, is a very, very small price we are being asked to pay.
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Old 09-11-2011, 02:47 PM
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Re: September Artist: Mauricio Lasansky

As I had said, James, it's good to have reminders of such a devestating part of our history, and its victims certainly deserve commemorating. I admire Lasansky's ability to portray it in such vivid detail. It would have been painful to the max for me to create what he did.

As a reminder, it's very fitting no matter how painful to look at. An over-abundance of pain was certainly involved, afterall. His Nazis drawings would be especially fitting for anyone who was yet that familiar with the extent of those atrocities. I looked at only six of them and still learned something, myself.

But six was enough. I moved on to more pleasing things by checking out the rest of his life's work. Which is my main point, of all I said beyond my first paragraph about the Nazi drawings.

With few exceptions, his whole life's work beyond his Nazi drawings struck me as having depressing colors and atmposphere. His whole life's work... I might ask myself, "Would I paint like that time and time again?" My answer, of course, would be, "No." Then I might ask myself, "Why not?" My answer would be, "Because I would get no enjoyment from constantly creating such unhappy looking art. It would seriously depress me if I forced myself to do so."

So I might think, "How could one possibly create such things one's whole life?" My best guess would be that the person was depressed most of the time to start with. More than a few famous artists have said something to the effect of "One's art is a reflection of one's self."

Yes, I could be wrong. He may be a really cheerful person. In any case, I was expressing how most of his works struck me. There's no question about his printmaking skill. I just don't enjoy how he used it.

I read an interview with him, can't remember which one. But he did a lot of swearing in his responses. And it wasn't because he was angry with the interviewer. It was his way of expressing his responses. The interview did not strike me as him being a very happy person. But maybe that one interview is taking things out of context. *shrugs*
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Old 09-15-2011, 08:21 PM
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Re: September Artist: Mauricio Lasansky

excellent works and artist-

the horrors of yesterday are still here today. we exclaim awe at the horrors missed in the past yet are afraid to admidt the continuing decay of the sacred today. human has not matured or progressed beyond its long past but is still ambling in the same blackbile of being- human. Genocide changes masks but does not change its face. Lasansky is current, public consciousness is historical and denial is habitual as it seems species specific. art is our voice yet seldom do we hear someone speak! pretty is not often positive but simply denial supportive. thanks JamesD, jamesr
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Old 09-16-2011, 01:28 PM
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Re: September Artist: Mauricio Lasansky

Saje...... There is no shortage of current examples of atrocities and even genocide. Lasansky’s drawings speak not only of the cruelty of the Nazis, but in a more universal sense they are a metaphor of the all-to-often inhumanity of man towards others. Others that are deemed to be inferior because of their race or religion or are perceived to be simply “different”.

Thank you for your eloquent and thoughtful comments.
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Old 09-27-2011, 07:13 PM
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Re: September Artist: Mauricio Lasansky

Thank you for sharing this artist James. He sucks you right into the horrors man can perpertrate against mankind. The techniques are interesting and do remind me somewhat of Goya. Demons and all.
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Old 09-28-2011, 12:05 AM
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Re: September Artist: Mauricio Lasansky

From your link -
Quote:
The Lasansky method — he'd laugh at the formality of such a title — calls for a lot of soul-searching and a little gut-wrenching:

"I tell students to stick their hands down their throats and reach into their stomachs. What they bring up is a lot of crap, but it's their crap."

Recognizing what makes their "crap" their "crap" is the first step in the method.
Love that!

I enjoyed the Great Thinkers series - especially Rembrandt, Tolstoy & Darwin.


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