Mauricio Lasansky Argentinean/American, born 1914
Jim Monson American, born 1943
Gabor Peterdi Hungarian/American 1915-2001
Karl Schrag German/American, 1912-1995
During the 1940's, the interest in printmaking as a fine art was revitalized by the Works Progress Administration graphic arts workshops and many artists continued to explore the method after the WPA projects were discontinued. The most important of these studios was the New York Atelier 17 established by Stanley William Hayter. His was the first independent American workshop developed for exclusive experimentation of the intaglio process of printmaking. Through Hayter's efforts, the studio gained the attention of artists from around the country. Many of these artists are now referred to as the New York School. These artists adopted Abstract Expressionism as a means of stylistic expression and their work radically altered the course of intaglio printmaking in America.
Many artists, including Mauricio Lasansky, worked extensively at the Atelier 17 formulating new methods and creating new techniques for their subjects as well as their prints. Several were later invited to develop print shops in university art departments around the country. One of the first artists to accept this challenge was Mauricio Lasansky. He established the vital printmaking workshop at the University of Iowa. To this day, it serves as a model for numerous other university printmaking departments led by many of Lasansky's former students.
Lasansky is a humanist. His work is about the various aspects of the human condition. In 1967 his series called The Nazi Drawings, now world famous, was shown at the Whitney Museum. Since that time he has amassed a body of work dealing with the fragileness of childhood and his family. Only occasionally does the theme of war return in works like The Kaddish Series, and Homage to Entebbe. He is also known as the artist who developed the super size print made with multiple plates. An excellent example of this is in his 1972 intaglio, Quetzalcoatl, which is over 75”high by 33 12” wide. This image has one galvanized color master plate; forty-five copper, zinc alloy, galvanized steel assembled shaped plates and eight copper master plates.
Jim Monson received his MA and MFA degrees in printmaking at the University of Iowa where he studied with Mauricio Lasansky. In 1969 he worked with S W Hayter in Paris and became his assistant and printer. While Monson printed Hayter’s intaglios he choose woodcut as his medium.
S W Hayter wrote the following about Monson. How can one describe the prints of Jim Monson? Color, rhythm, competence of line, composition-why not? But this explains nothing. His world, expressed by the abstract is evidently a world of imagination, nourished more by the experience of life in general, than by object or temporal incident. His works appeal more to a resonance in the imagination of he or she who regards them, than to his or her memory of things "déjà vues": in a sense they are without arrogance. They propose to the observer instead of imposing a limited fact; they propose to the free imagination a field of unknown experience.
Gabor Peterdi worked with Hayter in Paris before WWII and again in New York after WWII. Like Hayter, Peterdi was a major innovator in the intaglio process. Both men influenced the work of the other. Peterdi went on to teach first at Hunter College and then Yale where his students included among others: Anne Chesnut, Chuck Close, Tom Edwards, Al Held, Brice Marden, Elizabeth Peak, Peter Milton, Joseph Raffael, Richard Serra, and Richard Ziemann.
Throughout his life, Gabor Peterdi has not only looked at the nature surrounding him, he has lived it. Few artists have so completely realized themselves through identification with natural processes. As if proof of the theory of empathy, every form in Peterdi's mature works, whether perceived in nature or created on the canvas, is part of a rhythm that pervades his own being. His resistance to "objective" vision provides us with a heartening manifestation of an innate belief in the continuity of life as proof against an alien environment. Joshua C Taylor
In 1945, Karl Schrag, at Hayter's invitation, began to work at Atelier 17. Schrag enjoyed working alongside artists like Miro, Jackson Pollock, Mauricio Lasansky, Gabor Peterdi, Sue Fuller, and Anne Ryan. and mastering a wide array of print media. Schrag said in an 1970 interview with Paul Cummings, then curator at the Whitney Museum, there is something in the atmosphere when you are working together with such enormously creative people which is inspiring. But also beyond that the enormous widening of your grasp of the possibilities of graphics in general gives you not so much the possibility of using all of them but of understanding what would really fit your own needs.
Schrag taught printmaking at Brooklyn College from 1953 to 1954 and at Cooper Union from 1954 to 1968. In 1950 Schrag became director of Atelier 17 when Hayter returned to Paris.
Schrag said about his work: I think most of my work all through my life has had some autobiographical meaning, not in the sense that I wanted to draw my own biography in a literary way or literally, but rather that what I lived through and what I saw and what I thought at a certain time is somehow reflected in my work. It is always in close contact with what goes on in my own experiences at that time.