An American in Paris: Blanche Lazzell

Rosenberg & Co.
Dec 8, 2016 3:35PM

Blanche Lazzell, who studied in Paris with Albert Gleizes, Fernand Léger, and André Lhote, was a pioneer of American Modernism.

Blanche Lazzell (b. 1878, d. 1956) was a painter and printmaker, and one of the few female pioneers of Modernist American art. In 1908 she enrolled in classes at the Art Student League of New York, and three years later she traveled to Europe, visiting England, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy; she finally settled in Paris where she attended classes at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, the Académie Julian, the Académie Delécluse, and the Académie Moderne.

After two years in Europe, Lazzell returned to the United States. In 1915 she moved to the growing artist colony of Provincetown, Massachusetts. She was a founding member of the Provincetown Printers, who utilized Japanese woodblock techniques to create avant-garde works. Lazzell developed her own unique hybrid of Cubism and Abstract Expressionism with her white-line woodblock prints.

In 1923 Lazzell returned to Paris for a couple years, where she furthered her studies of Cubism with Albert Gleizes, Fernand Léger, and André Lhote, and exhibited in the Salon d'Automne of that year. In June of the following year, while still living in Paris, she began making preparatory drawings for her cheerful, thoroughly Cubist Abstract Composition. These preparatory drawings have fortuitously been preserved, giving a unique insight into how this Modern master planned her work.

Although often overshadowed by her male peers, Blanche Lazzell is now recognized as playing a key role in introducing American artists to European Modernism. As befitting an artist of such standing, her works can be found in major American public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Whitney Museum of Art, New York.

Blanche Lazzell's 'Abstract Composition' along with its four preparatory drawings are included in the exhibition 'Cubist Perspectives' now on view at Rosenberg & Co., New York, until December 21, 2016.

Rosenberg & Co.