Edward Lazansky, retired longtime Foundation faculty member, passed away on March 5, 2022, surrounded by loved ones at his home in Woodstock, New York. He was 91.
An accomplished painter who studied at distinguished institutions in New York City and Paris and worked as a scenic artist for theater, television, and film, Lazansky began teaching at Pratt Institute in 1966 as a visiting associate professor in the Foundation Art Department. In 1972, he was promoted to adjunct professor, and he received a Certificate of Continuous Employment (CCE). He retired in September 1992 but continued teaching Light, Color, and Design (LCD) at Pratt for two more decades, through the summer 2012 semester.
He is remembered as a dedicated educator and colleague whose commitment carried on well past retirement.
Bill Fasolino, who taught at Pratt for more than 30 years and was chair of the Foundation Art Department and acting dean, had this to offer about Professor Lazansky’s contribution to Pratt:
“First of all, the group of Foundation faculty (under Mary Buckley) together developed an innovative LCD course. Ed was an important contributor, with his background in painting and his extreme sensitivity to color relations. The course sort of took off, and it was an exceptional one, with an enhanced focus on color because of the faculty. Color and design had a closer reciprocal relationship than usual. It was one of the best courses in the country.
“As chairperson, I had opportunities to hear student comments about faculty. Ed’s general observational sensitivity extended to his interactions with individual students in his classes. I heard from students that he drew them out and fostered their particular innate abilities. He touched certain students with his special attention, and they became very fond of him. Individualization of his instruction was paramount in his teaching. He could spot certain special talents in particular students. A deep general knowledge of art history informed all his teaching. He often brought in examples of paintings, and especially posters, finding common formal features of both design and fine art history.
“The ’90s and early 2000s stick in my mind as a kind of golden age in Foundation studies during my time at Pratt because of the particular group of instructors, of which Ed was a part. Discussions were passionate and educational. Groups of us from the Foundation Department would meet at a museum or exhibit and wander around looking at artworks together. It was like a continuing education for us as teachers. (Sometimes the guards would come over and tell us to keep our voices down, and once in a while visitors would start following us around.) In his soft-spoken way, Ed made acute, insightful, and sensitive observations and comments. He had an extraordinary visual and analytical sensitivity.
“Later, when we were the only two left from the original department faculty who went on these museum excursions, Ed and I would meet to see a show and have lunch. We had such an affinity; we could stand in front of a painting and talk about it forever. It was very enjoyable!”
Kye Carbone, adjunct professor CCE in Foundation, recalls Professor Lazansky’s long-standing service at Pratt, “Over the years, I got to know Ed fairly well both as a Foundation colleague—discussing the LCD course—and as Faculty Union president when I was first elected in 2003. Ed was one of the original [union supporters] in the late ’60s and early ’70s when Pratt’s faculty unionized under Estelle Horowitz’s guidance.”
Professor Lazansky’s expertise and engagement as a Pratt faculty member coincided with a life committed to his craft and the arts. His daughter, Nadja Lazansky, shared the following obituary:
Ed was born in Brooklyn in 1930, to Jeanette Burros and Charles Lazansky. He went to the High School of Music and Art in New York and received a BA from Syracuse University in 1952 (thesis: “Concepts of Space Organization in 17th-Century Netherlandish Painting”) and an MA in fine arts from Oberlin College in 1954 (thesis: “The Drawing as an Independent Art Form,” Wolfgang Stechow, advisor), after which he was sent to Munich for his Army service. When his colonel realized Ed’s talents, he appointed him “Regimental Artist.”
Ed then studied painting with Edwin Dickinson at the Art Students League in New York. In 1960, he received the Harriet Hale Woolley scholarship, which took him to Paris, where he studied with Maurice Brianchon at the École des Beaux-Arts and also began a doctorate with André Chastel at the Sorbonne. He lived next to the Brancusi studio and across from Niki de Saint Phalle (witnessing her first “shootings”), in the Impasse Ronsin, one of the Parisian “cités d’artistes.” He immersed himself in the museums, the opera, the Cinémathèque, and of course the food.
Back in New York, Ed became involved in the avant-garde theater scene, and over the years designed sets for the Living Theatre, Theater for the New City, and most especially, Judson Poets’ Theater. He was a proud union man, and as a member of Local 829 United Scenic Artists, he worked on sets for the New York City Ballet, the New York City Opera, Saturday Night Live, and many feature films.
In 1963, Ed was drawn to Woodstock, and the summer campus of the Art Students League (now the Woodstock School of Art). He split his time between his apartment in New York City on the Lower East Side and his home in the Maverick Art Colony, where he continued to paint, and design his garden. His deep interest in geology took him on hikes in the local mountains and hunting for fossils, and also led him to explore the West, where the Grand Canyon became the inspiration for a series of paintings. Coming of age as a figurative painter at a time when conceptual art and abstract expressionism was the trend, Ed persisted with his clear vision of the world around him, interpreting it through his own lens.
His work has been exhibited in galleries, juried shows, and museums, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art; Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York; Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; New Bedford Art Museum, Massachusetts; Woodstock Artists Association; Kleinert/James Art Center, Woodstock, New York; and Prince Street Gallery, New York. His paintings may be viewed on his website: edwardlazansky.com.
While Ed was on the faculty at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, from 1966 to 2012, he taught many subjects, from drawing to art history, but especially Light, Color, and Design. If it is possible to know “everything” about color, he did. He was an unforgettably erudite teacher and would hear from former students how his innovative “projects” and sensitive critiques had influenced their lives and careers. He was forever trying to expand their ways of seeing, and had come back from Paris with a love for the French poster, which became one of his unique design-teaching projects.
Ed leaves behind his daughter Nadja Lazansky; his granddaughter Rachel Lazansky and her husband Bhanu Abeysekera; his friend and ex Phyllis Tower; his adopted daughter Lily McAllen, her husband Eric Brown, and their little son Cameron; as well as numerous nephews, nieces, and good friends.
To read the full obituary and to contribute memories or condolences, please visit the Seamon Wilsey Funeral Home website.