Four intaglio prints from the world-renowned artist Mauricio Lasansky’s series, “For an Eye an Eye,” have been donated to Wartburg’s permanent collection by William Fruehling and his wife Lynn. Fruehling said he has fond memories growing up on Wartburg’s campus. They donated the prints in honor of his parents, who were Wartburg faculty members for over 40 years.
“It’s long been my desire to share the collection with others, and what better community to introduce and share it with than the students and visitors at Wartburg,” Fruehling said.
The prints were bestowed and installed this spring and are displayed on the third floor of Vogel Library. This donation occurred as the college began an effort to display more works that the college owns.
“Integrating art into the living and learning spaces on campus will expose students to ongoing rich encounters with works utilizing a variety of media,” President Darrel Colson said. Fruehling said he was glad his donation could be part of the growing display at Wartburg.
“What better way to start than with Iowa’s most prominent artist, Mauricio Lasansky,” Fruehling said.
Lasansky was born in Argentina and studied art there before accepting the Guggenheim Fellowship in New York. While in New York, he immersed himself in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s massive print collection, according to Lasansky’s official website.
Only a year before creating “For an Eye an Eye,” Lasansky accepted a faculty position at the University of Iowa where he taught intaglio printmaking. Intaglio is a printmaking process that usually deals with carving or using acid to etch a metallic surface, such as copper, zinc or magnesium, according to Britannica Online.
The metallic plate then holds the ink where the artist wants it to be applied as a mirror image on the paper. It is then pressed onto the paper with enough force to leave a permanent and visible indentation from the plate.
Lasansky, according to Wartburg Marketing and Communications, received five Guggenheim Fellowships and the Iowa Award before he died earlier this year at age 97. He created more than 200 prints in his life.
“For an Eye an Eye,” may be Lasansky’s first reaction to the horrors of the Holocaust, a subject that he later revisited in his most famous series known as “The Nazi Drawings,” according to a college news release.
In “For an Eye an Eye,” Lasansky used distortion and fragmentation of the human form, according to his website. Carlton Miller, an art student at the University of Northern Iowa, has studied the Lasansky prints.
Miller said he believes the prints portray the Holocaust through the German folk story of Faust, where Faust can be viewed as Hitler. By the fourth print, Faust is doomed for eternal damnation and is being escorted to hell by Azazel as Mephistopheles plays his violin, Miller said.
He said he thinks Gretchen, the female figure found in the works, can be viewed as the silent but innocent Jewish people.
“Lasansky was somewhat closed lipped about his work,” Barbara Fedeler, professor of art, said. “He wanted viewers to bring their own interpretations to his work.”
Fedeler worked closely with Miller and said she agreed with Miller that the prints could be interpreted the way he suggested.
“When a student approaches these they are being asked a question by Lasansky and these prints provoke an emotional response from the symbolic quality of the images,” Fedeler said. “Life is harder when being asked a question, but it’s better that way,” she said.
CHRIS KENINGER STAFF WRITER