JULIE HELLER GALLERIES
Blanche Lazzell (1878 – 1956) was an American painter, printmaker and designer. Known especially for her white-line woodcuts, she was an early modernist American artist, bringing elements of Cubism and abstraction into her art.
Born in a small farming community in West Virginia, Lazzell traveled to Europe twice, studying in Paris with French artists Albert Gleizes, Fernand Leger and Andre Lhote. In 1915, she began spending her summers in the Cape Cod art community of Provincetown, Massachusetts and eventually settled there permanently. She was one of the founding members of the Provincetown Printers, a group of artists who experimented with a white-line woodcut technique based on the Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints.
In 1919 Lazzell was featured in an exhibition in Manhattan at the Touchstone Gallery alongside Weinrich, Mary Kirkup, and Flora Schoenfeld. Later that year, the Provincetown Printers were featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts exhibition "Wood Block Prints in Color by American Artists." Critics and galleries associated the Provincetown Printers with Modernist schools of painting and the artist collective continued to receive national exposure over the next few years with exhibitions in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New Orleans.
While Lazzell is most well known for her white-line woodcuts, she also created ceramics, hooked rugs, paintings, and gouache studies. The subjects of her paintings and prints included landscape scenery and harbor scenes in Provincetown as well as flowers and still lifes. These and her abstract works incorporated elements of both Synthetic and Analytic cubism and frequently comprised arrangements of vibrantly colored geometric shapes. She was among the earliest women artists in the United States to work in a modernist style.
Lazzell's paintings demonstrated a rich and nuanced use of color. She preferred French watercolor pigments that, alongside the grain of the woodblocks, created embossed lines and striated patterns. Typically the woodblocks she created were made from cherry or basswood and she only pulled three or four prints from each woodblock. From 1916 to 1955, Lazzell created 138 woodblocks. Modern exhibitions of Lazzell's artworks have included the woodblocks themselves.