Lasansky gives C.R. 230 works
Museum of Art adding gallery for printmaker's gift
Internationally renowned printmaker Mauricio Lasansky has joined Grant Wood and Marvin Cone in a triumvirate heading the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art's permanent collection.
The retired University of Iowa art professor, with his wife, Emilia, wi1l give the museum more than 230 artworks, including 174 by Lasansky. The Lasanskys' gift was announced Tuesday at a news conference in the museum's Stamats Library.
The donated works include a cross-section of his art from 1935 to 1986, with 84 original finished prints, 71 unique working-state (experimental) prints and 13 drawings.
The gift is being given on the strength of the museum's $6.5 million renovation and construction project at the Carnegie Building downtown, said museum Director Joseph Czestochowski. The museum initiated contact with the Lasanskys about two months ago.
The gift has a major impact on plans for the new building. To house the collection, the museum is adding a 5,000-square-foot Lasansky Gallery to its blueprints, financed with $1.5 million from anonymous donors. Total footage of the art museum will be 62,000 square feet.
The added construction is not expected to delay the proposed fall 1988 to spring 1989 opening of the new museum, Czestochowski said. The Lasansky Gallery will be in the new building adjoining the Carnegie Building.
The public will not see the core of the Lasansky collection until the new museum is completed.
Until now, the museum had fewer than 10 Lasansky artworks in its permanent collection. The gift of Lasansky works ranks the 72-year old artist third in representation in the museum's collection after Wood and Cone. Wood and Cone, native Eastern Iowa artists recognized nationwide, each are represented by about 250 works in the collection.
LASANSKY IS best known for his large-scale prints using multiple plates and a full color image, combining etching, drypoint, aquatint and engraving.
Throughout his stylistic evolution, he has remained a humanist, creating eloquent visual statements that are colorful, fresh and spontaneous. Perhaps Lasansky's bestknown and most powerful series, the haunting Nazi drawings, are housed in a special gallery at the U of I Museum of Art.
Making the announcement of the Lasanskys' gift were former Iowa Gov. Robert Ray, Cedar Rapids Mayor Donald Canney, Czestochowski and museum board of trustees Chairman D. William Coppock.
Ray said the gift is "of significance to the entire state of Iowa."
"This is a truly marvelous contribution and we all are going to benefit from it," he said.
Canney pointed out that the new museum is the culmination of some $70 million worth of public-private construction and renovation downtown, including the Five Seasons Center, Ground Transportation Center, Cedar Rapids Community Theatre, the Public Library and the Science Station. The growth constitutes "a string of successes unparalleled for a city this size," he said.
Czestochowski would not place a value on the gift, saying only that it is a "substantial gift" gleaned from artworks the Lasanskys saved for their own use over the years. Among the other artworks they will give the museum are Goya prints, African tribal art and a Spanish Romanesque sculpture of Christ dating from 1250 to 1350.
Lasansky came to teach at the U of I in 1945 and established a vital printmaking workshop that has served as a model for many other university art departments, often run by his former students.
In 1961, Time magazine published an article on Lasansky, dubbing him "the nation's most influential printmaker," and calling his U of I studio the "printmaking capital of the U.S."
He emigrated in 1943 from Argentina to New York, where he was part of a national vanguard of artists whose work radically altered the course of intaglio printmaking in America.
Now his work is altering the vision of the new Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. Czestochowski expressed great pleasure in the major new addition to the museum's permanent collection.
"We're simply building from the strength that we have, which is the Cone and Wood collections," he told The Gazette.
Reprinted from The Cedar Rapids Gazette,
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