Blanche Lazzell, ‘Little Church’, 1952, Christie's


Signed, titled and dated in brown pen, one of two impressions (as inscribed by the artist on the reverse), with wide margins, the right and lower sheet edges slightly uneven (possibly trimmed by the artist), the upper sheet edge taped to a support, framed
Image: 12 x 14 in. (305 x 356 mm.)
Sheet: 15 1/8 x 18 in. (384 x 457 mm.)

From the Catalogue:
Born in Maidsville, West Virginia in 1878, Blanche Lazzell would travel the world to study art with many of the 20th century’s masters of modernism before settling in Provincetown, Massachusetts. After an extensive early education in liberal arts, Lazzell enrolled in the Art Students League, where she met classmate and later colleague Georgia O’Keeffe. Together, they would become early American practitioners of the modern style. Like many young American artists, Lazzell was drawn to Paris’ vibrant art scene. She became familiar with the work of Matisse and the Fauves as well as Picasso, Braque, and the cubist style. At the outbreak of World War I, Lazzell returned to the United States and joined her new acquaintances from Paris in the small arts community of Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod. By 1916, they founded the Provincetown School and begun exhibiting their brilliant color woodcuts. Lazzell’s early work demonstrated her command of expressionistic color and abstract representational design. In her woodcuts, she seldom duplicated impressions and preferred to experiment and manipulate the effects of color and print variations.

In 1922, at the age of 45, Lazzell decided to leave Provincetown in search of new influences and experiences. Again, she returned to Europe and ultimately arrived back in Paris. This time, she made acquaintances with Fernand Léger and Albert Gleizes. Under their influence, she embraced non-representational imagery and favored the juxtaposition of brightly colored planes. By 1926, Lazzell returned to Provincetown and established her own teaching studio. As both a teacher and working artist, she would come to find both personal and commercial success. Museums, galleries, and art societies exhibited her prints and paintings across the country. In reference to her refusal to edition prints and her unique approach to woodcuts, Lazzell proclaimed, “I now call them wood block paintings- so you can call them that too… It’s no use to do these prints and give them away. They are really paintings and not to be considered with other things they call prints.”

Later in her career, representation returned to Lazzell’s work. The Little Church is one of her last wood block subjects. This impression is one of two impressions pulled from the block by the artist. Lazzell juxtaposed the bright colors of the bricks with muted tones of the surrounding city. The city has been reduced to geometric planes in a cubist style to flatten the image. The Little Church represents the culmination of her studies in expressionistic color and cubist representation.
—Courtesy of Christie's

About Blanche Lazzell