Buenos Aires, Argentina
Iowa City, Iowa
Born in Buenos Aires; became American citizen in 1952; was professor and head of Printmaking Department at State University of Iowa, retiring in 1985. Lasansky was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1936, at the age of twenty-two, he had already become the director of the Free Fine Arts School, in Villa Maria, Cordoba, Argentina. In 1943, Lasansky was offered the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in which he came to the United States and studied the print collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This opportunity not only afforded him a wealth of knowledge about prints and printmakers but created an opportunity for him to be exposed to and work with a number of European masters who had fled to the United States during wartimes. By 1952, he had not only received a great deal of recognition, prizes and awards, and an impressive line of exhibitions, but also had established himself as an American citizen. During the 1940s, the interest in printmaking as a fine art was revitalized by the Works Progress Administration graphic arts workshops and many artists continued to explore the method after the WPA projects were discontinued. The most important of these studios was the New York Atelier 17 established by Stanley William Hayter. His was the first independent American workshop developed for exclusive experimentation of the intaglio process of printmaking. Through Hayter's efforts, the studio gained the attention of artists from around the country. Many of these artists are now referred to as the New York School. These artists adopted Abstract Expressionism as a means of stylistic expression and their work radically altered the course of intaglio printmaking in America. Many artists, including Lasansky, worked extensively at the Atelier 17 formulating new methods and creating new techniques for their subjects as well as their prints. Several were later invited to develop printshops in university art departments around the country. One of the first artists to accept this challenge was Mauricio Lasansky, who established the vital printmaking workshop at the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History. To this day, it serves as a model for numerous other university printmaking departments. Many of Lasansky's former students helped to shape these departments, including Glen Alps, who taught for forty years at the University of Washington, Seattle; Lee Chesney (born 1921) who taught at the University of Illinois in Champaign, the Otis Art Insititute, the University of Southern California and the University of Hawai'i; David Driesbach (born 1922) who taught at Ohio University in Athens and Northern Illinois University in Dekalb and John Ilhe (1925–2002) who taught at San Francisco State University, and John Paul Jones (1924–1999) who taught at University of CA at Los Angeles, and University of California at Irvine, where he set up and administered the Printmaking facility. It is the passing down of established techniques and ideologies about innovative printmaking techniques from generations of these teachers and students that marks the legacy of Atelier 17. And, it is Lasansky, one of the first generations of these printmakers, who has influenced the course of printmaking in the United States. He died, aged 97, in Iowa City.