CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: March 24, 2000
UI will honor printmaker Mauricio Lasansky with film screening and concert
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa will honor emeritus faculty member
and pioneering printmaker Mauricio Lasansky with a reception hosted by UI
President Mary Sue Coleman at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 9 in the UI Museum of Art.
The reception will be preceded by a 1 p.m. program honoring Lasansky and
featuring a documentary video about Lasansky's monumental "Nazi Drawings"
series in the Levitt Center for University Advancement; and a 2 p.m. concert
of music inspired by the "Nazi Drawings," in the Museum of Art.
All events will be free and open to the public.
One of the UI's most distinguished and honored faculty members, Lasansky
was the 14th recipient of the Iowa Award, the State of Iowa's highest citizen
award, given by Gov. Tom Vilsack in October 1999. The award, bestowed by the
Iowa Centennial Foundation, is given approximately every five years. Past
recipients have included Herbert Hoover, cartoonist Jay N. Darling, UI space
scientist James Van Allen, pollster and UI alumnus George Gallup, composer
Meredith Willson and opera singer Simon Estes, another UI alumnus.
A native of Argentina, Mauricio Lasansky came to the United States in 1943
on a Guggenheim Fellowship to study printmaking in New York City. He joined
the UI art faculty in 1945 and established the first Master of Fine Arts program
in printmaking in an American university. As his students spread around the
country, his successful and influential program became the model for printmaking
programs and workshops at many other colleges and universities.
In 1967 Lasansky was named Virgil M. Hancher Professor of Art, and he attained
emeritus status in 1984. The Museum of Art has a separate room devoted to
the display of Lasansky's works. His art has appeared in more than 80 one-man
exhibitions since 1943 and is currently housed in more than 75 museums and
"The Nazi Drawings" is a series of pencil, wash and earth-color
drawings with collage that examine the brutality of Nazi Germany. The 30 drawings
and one triptych in the set are very large, with life-sized figures. They
were created in 1966 to international acclaim.
Commenting on the subject of these works, Lasansky has said, "Dignity
is not a symbol bestowed upon a man, nor does the word itself possess force.
Man's dignity is a force and the only modus vivendi by which man and his history
survive. When mid-20th-century Germany did not let man live and die with this
right [of dignity], man became an animal."
"The Nazi Drawings," a 25-minute documentary video by Lane Wyrick,
will receive its public premiere during the 1 p.m. event honoring Lasansky.
The video features narration by UI Theatre Arts faculty member Eric Forsythe
and original music by UI Music faculty member David Gompper. The video has
been selected as a finalist in all five categories in which it was entered
for the Iowa Film Awards, "Showcase Iowa 2000": Documentary, Editing
-- Long form, Entertainment -- Short form, Original Music Score and Voice
The documentary combines Forsythe's narration with views of the drawings,
historical photographs of Lasansky, concentration camp footage and interviews
with Lasansky, historian/poet Edwin Honig, and Richard S. Levitt. The Richard
Levitt Foundation owns "The Nazi Drawings," which are on long-term
loan to the UI Museum of Art.
The program for the 2 p.m. concert will comprise the world premiers of music
inspired by Lasansky's "Nazi Drawings" and written specifically
for the occasion by faculty and students of the School of Music. The performance
will be presented by the UI Center for New Music, under the direction of David
In September 1999, music faculty members and composition students visited
the Museum of Art to see the "Nazi Drawings." On a subsequent visit,
the composers were able to see the entire series. In the words of Jeremy Dale
Roberts, visiting professor of composition, the two visits "made a penetrating
and disturbing impression."
"Not only thematically but also technically, Lasansky's work has struck
a powerful chord with a number of composers," he wrote afterwards. "It
has been interesting to note the varieties of musical medium, form and idiom
that have been brought to bear upon the project" one of the first to
appear was a piece for tape; various chamber ensembles followed; and a setting
for two voices of a text by a student in the Playwrights' Workshop opened
up the perspective even further."
The complete program features nine new pieces: "Wieglied" (Lullaby)
for solo viola by Roberts; "Theodicy" for clarinet, viola and cello
by Christopher Brakel; "Gregor" for violin. Cello and double bass
by Alexandre Lunsqui; ". . . und im gleichen Mutter-Raum treibt es und
west seine innige Zeit . . ." for chamber ensemble by Albin Jones; "On
the Nazi Drawing #15 by Mauricio Lasansky" for clarinet, saxophone and
cello, by Erin Gee; "Disquiet Meditation" for electronic tape by
Michael Cash; "Planctus" for string quartet by Matthew Ertz; "Catacombs"
for two singers and piano by Vatchara Vichikul, a setting of a text by Stephen
Frattali; and "Tango" for piano by School of Music faculty member
A flexible organization devoted to the performance of music composed in the
20th century, the Center for New Music is directed by David Gompper, a faculty
member in the theory and composition area of the UI School of Music. Membership
in the center's performing ensemble includes both faculty and students of
the School of Music.
The center was founded in 1966 with a seed grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.
The center promotes the performance of new music by providing a core group
of specialists in contemporary performance techniques. Its programming has
included world premieres as well as acknowledged contemporary masterworks.
Today, the Center for New Music is supported by the UI School of Music.
In November 1998 an east-coast tour by the center included a performance
at Merkin Hall in New York City. Critic Paul Griffiths opened his New York
Times review of the concert by observing that "an ensemble of faculty
and graduate students from the University of Iowa performed strongly Tuesday
night," and he praised Gompper for "the concert's clarity and directness."
The "Nazi Drawings" video documentary contains graphic content
that may be considered unsuitable for children.
The Levitt Center for University Advancement is located at 1 West Park Road,
just north of Hancher Auditorium.
The UI Museum of Art is located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City. Admission
is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots across from
the museum on Riverside Drive and just north of the museum. Information on
Mauricio Lasansky may be found on the internet at http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/lasansky_mauricio.html.