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 Blanche (Nettie Blanche) Lazzell  (1878 - 1956)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/West Virginia      Known for: abstract geometric color woodblocks, botanics

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Ad Code: 1
Blanche Lazzell
from Auction House Records.
PAINTING XI (THE WINDMILL)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born near Maidsville, West Virginia, Blanche Lazzell enrolled at the West Virginia Conference Seminary (now West Virginia Wesleyan. College) in 1894.  After attending South Carolina Co-Educational Institute in Edgefield in 1899, she studied art at West Virginia University, receiving a degree in art history and the fine arts in 1905.

She moved to New York in 1907, and enrolled at the Art Students League, where she studied with William Merritt Chase and alongside Georgia O'Keeffe.  Lazzell traveled throughout Europe in 1912 and took classes in Paris at the Academie Julian and the Academie Moderne headed by Charles Guerin and Charles Rosen.  By 1913, Lazzell had returned to West Virginia and opened a school.  In 1915 she attended the Cape Cod School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts, which had become a meeting place for artists returning from Europe to escape the chaos of World War I.

In 1916, Lazzell and several other artists exhibited their work in color woodblock at the studio of E. Ambrose Webster. With the success of this show, the Provincetown Printers Group became the first color-woodblock society to be established. During a trip to Europe in 1923, Lazzell studied cubism with Fernand Leger and also received instruction from Andre Lhote and Albert Gleizes. She returned to America in 1924, and from 1937 to 1938 studied with the abstract artist Hans Hofmann.

Blanche Lazzell is known primarily for her involvement with the Provincetown art world where she first sojourned in the summer of 1915. She was a painter, printmaker, and rug maker. After a brief period when she was influenced by Impressionism, Lazzell developed a decorative, geometric and cubist style, perfectly suited to flowers and the houses, wharves and rooftops of Provincetown.

Artists flocked to Provincetown during WWI, when the doors to Paris were closed, and Lazzell described the feel of the town in those times: "Creative Energy was the air we breathed. It was in this quaint setting that the Provincetown Print came into being." And it was in the creation of the Provincetown Print that Blanche Lazzell was to excel. She once explained: "Originality, Simplicity, Freedom of Expression, and above all Sincerity, with a clean cut block, are characteristics of a good wood block print."

Source: Outer Cape Art Auctions, www.outercapeartauctions



This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Maidsville, West Virginia, Blanche Lazzell became a leading figure in color-woodblock printmaking in a geometric, Cubist influenced style.  She is most associated with the art colony in Provincetown, Massachusetts where she belonged to the Provincetown Print Makers founded in 1915.

Lazzell studied at West Virginia University and by 1905, had earned three university degrees, highly unusual for a woman of that time.  In 1908, she entered the Art Students League in New York as a pupil of William Merritt Chase, and in 1912, she studied in Paris at the Academie Moderne with Charles Guerin, a modernist, anti-academic teacher.  She returned to Paris in 1923 and 1924 and studied with Fernand Leger, Andre Lhote, and Albert Gleizes.  From 1923 to 1930, she exhibited at the Salon d'Automne in Paris.

By 1915, she had established her studio in the art colony in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and became a leading personality, especially known for her woodblocks.  During the 1930s, she was a WPA (Works Progress Administration) artist, completing a set of prints depicting her family life at Morgantown, West Virginia.


Source:
Jules and Nancy Heller, North American Women Artists


Biography from Hollis Taggart Galleries (Artists, E-O):
A remarkably talented, versatile, and innovative artist, Blanche Lazzell experimented with Post-Impressionism, Pointillism, Cubism, and abstraction in her paintings and prints, and was among the earliest modernists in the United States. She also used her creative gifts to make textiles and learned the craft of china painting. Her boldly designed and lushly painted oils and her vibrantly colored and exquisitely executed color woodblocks helped establish her fame as a creative force in modern American art during the first decades of the twentieth century.

Blanche Lazzell was a highly-educated and well-traveled painter whose works have found many admirers among critics and collectors alike. Born near Maidsville, West Virginia, she entered the West Virginia Conference Seminary (now West Virginia Wesleyan College) at the age of 15, studied for a semester at the South Carolina Co-Educational Institute in Edgefield in 1899, and matriculated from West Virginia University in 1905 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in fine arts. In 1907, she moved to New York to continue her training in art under William Merritt Chase at the Art Students League, where one of her fellow students was Georgia O’Keeffe. After the death of her father in March 1908, she returned home and took more art classes at West Virginia University.

Like most Americans of her generation, Lazzell felt the need to study and travel abroad and left for Europe in July 1912 for a year-and-a half sojourn. After visiting several capital cities, she settled in the Montparnasse neighborhood of Paris and began taking classes at the Académie de la Grand Chaumière, the Académie Julian, and the Académie Delécluse.

In January 1913, she enrolled in the Académie Moderne, a school recommended to her by a fellow American painter William E. Schumacher, who had a studio in Paris which Lazzell had visited. As its name suggests, the Moderne differed from other art academies in its association with the more advanced art movements in Paris. Among its faculty were Fauve painters Othon Friesz and Albert Marquet, and the landscape paintings of Paul Cézanne were used for instruction in the studios. Lazzell preferred the Moderne to the other schools, writing “I like it very much at the Moderne and feel that I am at last in my element.”(3) She also explored the contemporary art galleries that dotted the city. Lazzell responded positively to the recent vanguard art movements and began incorporating the language of modernism into her own paintings. She also attended lectures on Italian Renaissance, Dutch, and Flemish art at the Louvre to further her artistic education.

In the summer of 1915, Lazzell moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts, which would eventually become her permanent home. In Provincetown, a veritable crucible of modernist activity, she became an integral part of the area’s art scene for more than 40 years. She attended classes with Charles Hawthorne at the Cape Cod School of Art, and studied print-making with Oliver N. Chaffee. She became known as an exponent of the “Provincetown print,” a method of wood-block printing that used one block for all the colors, with a white incised line that contoured the forms that prevented colors from running into one another. In 1918, Lazzell participated in the show of the Provincetown Printers, the first woodblock print society formed in the United States. Thereafter, she participated in several important exhibitions of American printmakers’ work, including the landmark show at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1919.

Through her preference for abstract design, she was one of the first women artists to introduce modern art into America. Her career was devoted to understanding and promoting the theoretical underpinnings of the modernist aesthetic. Through her art, her teaching, and her associations with other artists, Lazzell translated the achievements of the European modernists for her colleagues in America.

Relentlessly experimental and open-minded, Lazzell explored a variety of new techniques and media—such as hand-hooked wool rug design, painted china, quatrefoil plaster reliefs, and even batiked fabrics. Throughout her career, she showed a thirst for learning and continued to refresh her ideas. In the summer 1937, at nearly sixty years old, she studied drawing under Hans Hofmann for six weeks, seeking to hone her approach to abstract composition. During the lean Depression years, she produced paintings and prints, many of which depicted the landscapes of her hometown in West Virginia, for the Works Progress Administration of Massachusetts (although later she would renounce the Federal Arts Program, and in particular, her home state’s lack of participation in the project).

Oil paintings by Lazzell are often rare, particularly because after her death in Massachusetts in 1956, the works were returned to her family in West Virginia and remained out of the public eye for many years. Recent discoveries, retrospective exhibitions, and restoration have brought to light Lazzell’s abstract paintings, helping scholars to establish the artist’s importance in chronicles of the early adoption of abstraction in the United States. Her works appear in numerous public collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; the Amon Carter Museum, Texas; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Detroit Institute of Arts; the Newark Museum, New Jersey; the Provincetown Art Association and Museum; the Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts; and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

© Copyright 2008 Hollis Taggart Galleries

Biography from Julie Heller Gallery:
BLANCHE LAZZELL (1878 - 1956)

Born near Maidsville, West Virginia, Blanche Lazzell enrolled at the West Virginia Conference Seminary (now West Virginia Wesleyan. College) in 1894.  After attending South Carolina Co-Educational Institute in Edgefield in 1899, she studied art at West Virginia University, receiving a degree in art history and the fine arts in 1905.  She moved to New York in 1907 and enrolled at the Art Students League, where she studied with William Merritt Chase and alongside Georgia O'Keeffe.  Lazzell traveled throughout Europe in 1912 and took classes in Paris at the Academie Julian and the Academie Moderne headed by Charles Guerin and Charles Rosen.

By 1913, Lazzell had returned to West Virginia and opened a school.  In 1915 she attended the Cape Cod School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts, which had become a meeting place for artists returning from Europe to escape the chaos of World War I.  In 1916 Lazzell and several other artists exhibited their work in color woodblock at the studio of E. Ambrose Webster.  With the success of this show, the Provincetown Printers Group became the first color-woodblock society to be established.  During a trip to Europe in 1923, Lazzell studied cubism with Fernand Leger and also received instruction from Andre Lhote and Albert Gleizes.  She returned to America in 1924, and from 1937 to 1938 studied with the abstract artist Hans Hofmann.

Biography from ACME Fine Art:
Blanche Lazzell
1878-1956

Education:
West Virginia University
Art Students League with William Merritt Chase
Academie Moderne, Paris
and in Paris with Leger, Lhote, and Gleizes
in Provincetown with Oliver Chaffee, Charles Hawthorne,
and Hans Hofmann

Selected Exhibitions:
Society of Independent Artists, 1917-’23,’25-’27,’36,’38
Salons of America, 1922,’27
New York Society of Women Artists, 1924-’46
Provincetown Art Association and Museum, 1916-’46
Societe Anonyme
World’s Fair of New York, 1939
Library of Congress
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Skidmore College
Corcoran Gallery of Art
Brooklyn Museum of Art
Museum of Modern Art, 1936
Philadelphia Art Alliance
National Association of Women Painters & Sculptors, 1938
Smithsonian Institution, 1940
Whitney Museum of American Art, 1941
Carnegie Institute, 1946
West Virginia University
Worcester Art Museum
National Museum of American Art
Cleveland Museum of Art

Selected Collections:
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Detroit Art Institute
Rhode Island School of Design
Provincetown Art Association & Museum
West Virginia University
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City
Greenville Museum of Art, NC
New Jersey State Museum
Lightner Museum, St. Augustine, FL

Biography from James Graham & Sons, Est. 1857:
Like many artists of her generation, Blanche Lazzell studied with William Merritt Chase. But Lazzell moved on quickly to the abstract movement, studying at the Academie Moderne in Paris, and with such artists as Fernand Leger and Andre Lhote. Studying woodcut techniques in Provincetown with Oliver Chaffee was perhaps her most important training since she is best known as an abstract printmaker in the “white line” method. In 1926, when she returned from Paris, Provincetown became her artistic home and the center of her life.


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