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    Blanche Lazzell (American, 1878-1956)
    My Provincetown Studio, 1933
    Woodblock print in colors
    14 x 12 inches (35.6 x 30.5 cm) (image)
    Ed. 3
    Signed, dated, and titled in ink along lower edge
    Signed, dated, titled, and inscribed in ink verso

    Ray Cook, Provincetown, Massachusetts, acquired from the above;
    Estate of the above;
    Private collection, Florida, acquired from the above.

    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. 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.

    Born in West Virginia, Lazzell moved to New York in 1907 to enroll 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 Académie Julian and the Académie Moderne. 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 (J. Moser Singular Impressions: The Monotype in America, Washington, D.C. 1997, n.p.).

    Throughout her long career, Lazzell remained open to new experiences and ideas. Her early work in Paris between 1912 and 1914 had introduced her to the more radical European movements. By 1925, following two years of study with Albert Leon Gleizes, Andre Lhote, and Fernand Leger in Paris, she had become fully committed to a decorative, geometric cubism. Cubism, as Lazzell defined it, "the organization of flat planes of color, with an interplay of space, instead of perspective," was well suited to her woodcuts and to the angular patterns of the Provincetown houses, rooftops, and wharves that dominated much of her work. Lazzell was a passionate gardener, and flower images occurred repeatedly in her work. Even these images, although based on direct observation, were transformed into rhythmic interplays of abstracted shapes. Her mastery of the complexities of the cubist aesthetic is perhaps best represented in a remarkable group of block prints made in 1925, which are among the earliest nonrepresentational prints created in the United States.

    For more than forty years Blanche Lazzell summered, and sometimes wintered as well, in Provincetown. There, she entertained visitors, displaying her work and demonstrating the techniques of wood-block cutting and printing. Her ? "Color Wood Block Printing" course attracted numerous students, many of whom continued to work in the medium throughout their careers, including artists George Ault, Mary Mullineux, Hope Voorhees Pfeiffer, Elizabeth Shuff Taylor, and Grace Martin Taylor, among others.

    Between 1916 and 1956, Lazzell created more than 138 blocks and countless impressions through a process that seems to have held a continual fascination for her. Her block prints were technically distinguished by fine cutting and meticulous, sensitive printing. The cutting was made almost exclusively by knife, following a design drawn directly on the block. In printing, a sheet of paper, usually oriental, was affixed to the top edge of the block and folded back, away from the cut image. As each segment was colored, the paper was returned to the block and printed with pressure from the bowl of a spoon. If the pressure were increased, the paper was forced more deeply into the cut grooves, producing an embossed white line. Watercolors were used for printing, and Chinese white was occasionally added for opaque pastel tones.

    Lazzell was never concerned about producing exact duplicates of her prints or even consistent editions of them. Rather, as she wrote to Katharine McCormick, ? "I use perfect freedom as to color and values. I trust to my inspiration at the time I do the print." She continued, ? "I give myself one week to the making of one print. It is not a paying business as far as price is concerned. I do them because I like to" (J. Altic Flint, Provincetown Printers: A Woodcut Tradition, Washington, D.C, 1983, n.p.).

    Condition Report*: Sheet size 18.125 x 13 inches. Not framed, Sheet is loose. Heavy foxing throughout; Watermarks noticeable along outer edged causing small spots of abrasions in the lower corner, verso; Pinholes along top edge; Old adhesive visible on the extreme top edge. Possible 1/2 inch repair directly below the title on the lower left.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2020
    3rd Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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