West Virginia native Blanche Lazzell is receiving recognition for her role as a pioneer of modern art in a forthcoming book to be published by the West Virginia University Press .
Scheduled for release in August, Blanche Lazzell: The Life and Work of an American Modernist is a full-color compilation of essays and reproductions of her work in a large-format book. The book follows Lazzells development as an artist and examines her significant contributions to twentieth-century American art.
On Oct. 10, 1878, Blanche Lazzell was born in Maidsville, W.Va., a small coal-mining community just outside of Morgantown. Demonstrating an early interest in the arts, Lazzell enrolled at WVU in 1901. Studying under WVU faculty, the aspiring artist gained the training which would provide a solid foundation for her later engagement with modernism.
Throughout the next 50 years, Lazzell sought to interact with, and learn from, fellow artists and teachers. Obtaining her art degree in 1905, she ventured to New York City, enrolling in classes at the Liberal Art Students League. Lazzell garnered much praise from instructors like William Merritt Chase throughout her two-year tenure at the League. Within the Leagues active, vibrant community painting alongside fellow students such as Georgia OKeeffe, she began to forge the relationships that would later shape her career.
From 1912 to 1914, Lazzell embarked upon a tour of Europe, immersing herself in the cultural riches there and becoming involved in the exploding art scene of Paris. During this trip she began to delve into the evolving European modernist aesthetic.
Upon her return to America in 1915, Lazzell settled in the art colony of Provincetown, Mass. Shortly thereafter, she helped found the Provincetown Printers with a group of other local modernists, many of whom were acquaintances from her days in Europe. With her colleagues, Lazzell pioneered the white-line woodblock prints for which she is best known. During this period she began to distill European ideas about abstraction into her uniquely American style.
Ever-interested in newly emerging trends, Lazzell sought artistic instruction from many of the premier artists of the period. In particular, her second trip to Paris (1923-1924) permitted her to attend several French academies, studying under the prominent cubists Fernand Legér, André Lhote and Albert Gleizes. The ideas and techniques she acquired on this trip would greatly inform her mature work.
Blanche Lazzell: The Life and Work of an American Modernist is an invaluable resource both as a catalogue of Lazzells work, and a window on the mind of a pioneering modernist who served as a translator of European trends in modern art for her colleagues in America.
The metaphor of a bridge works particularly well for her in the history of twentieth century art,writes contributing author Susan Doll,serv[ing] as a link between the modernists of the first decades of the century and the pure abstract artists of the next generation.
However, despite her prolonged residence outside of the state, Lazzell maintained an ardent affinity toward her native West Virginia. She unfailingly captured the intrinsic beauty of the region, painting such local landmarks as WVU s Stewart Hall and the Monongahela River. Upon her death in 1956, Lazzell generously donated numerous pieces to the WVU art collection, many of which are reproduced in this large-format book.
Filled with illustrations and plates of the many artworks created throughout Lazzells extended career, Blanche Lazzell: The Life and Work of an American Modernist is ideal for art enthusiasts and historians, as well as those interested in Appalachian culture.
Customers who order directly from the WVU Press before July 31st will receive 20 percent off the cover price of $75. Call 304-293-8400 or visithttp://www.wvupress.comto place an order, for more information or to browse the WVU Press catalog.