A native of Argentina, Mauricio Lasansky received a Guggenheim Fellowship at the age of 22 and used it to study prints within the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. A naturalized American citizen by 1952, he worked on his own prints at the famous Atelier 17 in New York City that had adopted Abstract Expressionism as its means of stylistic expression.
Lasansky was invited to establish a print workshop at the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History in 1945. He built a legacy at Iowa that served as a model for other universities in establishing their printmaking departments and in fact many of those departments were developed by Lasansky’s students and continue to be headed by later generations of his students. In addition to teaching, many students became successful professional artists. Janet Ruttenberg, Dubuque native and one of Lasansky’s first students accepted into his program at Iowa, continues to maintain an active studio in New York City. One of Ruttenberg’s early works, on loan following her recent exhibition at the Dubuque Museum of Art, is presented here alongside her instructor’s work.
Lasansky is best known for his complex, large-scale prints on which he applied a variety of printing techniques, using multiple plates and experimenting with an array of colors. Awarded five Guggenheim Fellowships over his lifetime, as well as numerous honorary degrees and exhibition awards, Lasansky devoted his career to exploring the expressive possibilities of printmaking and contributing significantly to establishing it as a meaningful and critical art form for the 20th century.
Lasansky retired from the University of Iowa in 1985. He continued to live in Iowa City with his wife Emilia until her death in 2009, and maintained his studio there until his death in 2012. The Lasansky artistic legacy continues today through his students as well as through his children and grandchildren, many of whom have prominent careers in the arts.
The six works by Mauricio Lasansky in this exhibition were donated in 2015 to DUMA from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Harold E. Rayburn. Mr. Rayburn is a retired Eastern Iowa business executive and art collector with a particular interest in Iowa printmakers. Significant donations from visionary collectors like Mr. Rayburn and Dr. Randall Lengeling are the backbone of building a strong collection for the Museum to preserve and exhibit today and for future generations. We are grateful to all of our donors for entrusting part of their collecting legacy to DUMA.