American Landscape, Woodstock Ca. 1917
Oil on canvas
Museum purchase with funds provided by Gerald and Emily Leischuck
By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions
Blanche Lazzell is a truly remarkable American modernist. Born in rural West Virginia, she was educated there and in South Carolina before enrolling at the Art Students League in 1907 at the age of 29. Five years later she traveled to Europe and trained in Paris at the Académie Moderne in 1913. In 1915 she spent her first summer in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she would continually return over the next forty years to become one of the most influential and innovative artists of that art colony. It was there she first learned the technique of white-line woodcuts that would later be a hallmark of her creative art production.
In the summer of 1917, Lazzell studied color theory with Charles Schumacher at the Byrdcliffe Art Colony in Woodstock, New York. Schumacher had attended the Académie Julian in Paris and was influenced by Nabis artists Pierre Bonnard and Maurice Denis as well as the Post-Impressionist, Paul Cézanne, but it was Georges Seurat’s pursuit of color analysis that would serve to inspire Schumacher for much of his later career. His influence is evident in this painting, which was most likely completed by Lazzell at Byrdcliffe.
During her lifetime, Lazzell became an accomplished and respected artist who despite her conservative demeanor was invited by Katherine Dreier to serve on the Board of Directors of the Société Anonyme, whose founders included Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp. Throughout her life Lazzell never ceased to explore the various stylistic vocabularies of modern art. In the 1920s she returned to Paris to study cubism and geometric abstraction with Fernand Léger, André Lhote, and Albert Gleizes. In the late 1930s, almost at the age of 60, she took classes with Hans Hoffmann in Provincetown to learn more about painterly abstraction. Her lifelong penchant for learning and examining various modernist expressions makes this painting an important reflection of her outstanding career. Landscape, Woodstock would not only well represent this significant artist in our museum’s collection, it would also serve as a fine example of the modernist technique known as pointillism for our students.
In anticipation of Auburn’s celebration of 125 Years of Auburn Women, curators will campaign to acquire work by women artists, thus adding to the 54 females currently represented in the collection. Learn more.