Blanche Lazzell


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(1878–1956). Printmaker and painter. Known especially for color woodcuts, she usually composed with simplified and stylized representational forms but also produced abstract works. Born near Maidsville, West Virginia, Nettie Blanche Lazzell graduated in 1905 from West Virginia University in Morgantown. Three years later, she enrolled at the Art Students League, where she worked with William Merritt Chase. Following a return to West Virginia in 1908, from 1912 to 1914 she continued her studies in Paris. Subsequently, she studied with Charles W. Hawthorne, took up cutting and printing wood blocks, and settled into a longtime habit of spending summers (and occasional winters) on Cape Cod, in Provincetown. In Paris again in the early 1920s, she enriched her training by working with Fernand Léger, Albert Gleizes, and André L'Hôte. In this environment, her work became more abstract. In 1933 she returned to Morgantown to work for a federal art project. She continued to maintain ties in that city, where she died. Lazzell's technical mastery of the woodcut medium is already evident in the tightly designed 1919 Monongahela, an abstracted landscape. Lunging branches of a foreground leafless tree balance a sweeping river curve that recedes to geometric rhythms of a bridge and distant, rounded hills. Although forms are flattened and simplified, soft and painterly color provides a delicate atmosphere. More directly indebted to her experience of cubism, the 1926 Non-Objective (B), also a color woodcut, abstracts a tabletop still life. Tiny patterning, recalling effects seen in certain French collages, enlivens some of the interlocking, harmoniously colored shapes.

From The Oxford Dictionary of American Art and Artists in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.

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