LOUIS LAZARE SCHAFF - (American Artist, 1898-1982)
Schaff was born in New York, July 28, 1898. His early art studies were at the Art Students League in that city, during the late 1920s and early 1930s. He began to exhibit his work in the early 1930s at the Salons of America, Rockefeller Center, and other New York venues. Schaff had ties to Oregon early as 1923 when he climbed Mt. Hood. He ultimately settled in Portland, Oregon in the 1940s. While supporting himself selling life insurance, Schaff continued his painting, and studying art. In 1956 he was accepted as an “Artist Member” of the Portland Art Museum through the Portland Art Association. His work was exhibited a the Portland Art Museum and other locations during the 1950s.
With his roots in New York, and obvious exposure to the “Ashcan School”, it is no surprise that Schaff was essentially a genre artist, a painter of common the person in ordinary surroundings. People in various activities appear in most of his paintings: street scenes, dances, restaurants, the theater, horse races, ball games, the circus, and where ever the public gathers. Schaff’s style evolved into an energetic expressionist manner. He used color and lively brushwork to evoke an optimistic mood in most of his art, and he did not hesitate to express his distinct personality. Known as a man with a sense of comedy, this wit is often evident in his paintings.
Schaff’s early representational drawings show technical skill, especially in figure studies and portraits. He would later apply this ability to modern styles in oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, encaustic, and complex mixed media. Besides his painting, Schaff was a skilled printmaker working in etching, aquatint, lithograph, monotype, linocut, and woodcut. Schaff painted while vacationing with his wife Ava Marie, whom he married late in life in 1971. As a result, his Portland and New York subjects were supplemented with scenes of Europe and Mexico during the 1970s & early 1980s. Again, his work in foreign countries would depict people in everyday activities.
Louis Lazare Schaff died in Portland, Oregon in 1982 leaving behind a diverse body of work spanning almost 60 years.