#6 — Editions Lassiter Meisel / ELM
I guess I should follow up on the promise to discuss our screenprinting venture…
Susan Pear Meisel, now my wife of 52 years, began her career as a painter. From the time we were married in 1966 until 1973, I sold about 1,000 of her paintings, which were inspired by the impressionists and Jean Dufy. To supply the demand for her work, Susan ultimately began to create lithographs and screenprints.
She produced 50 editions with several publishers in the 70’s. Upon hearing of a very talented screen printer at the New York Institute of Technology, we decided to visit their printing facility and the printer Norman Lassiter. We were astounded by his capabilities, and we offered to underwrite and support a sophisticated workshop to produce editions.
Norman stated that he could print in registered colors on anything. He was actually called on that by an exhibitor at a printing fair who asked him to print their logo in two colors in a stream of running water. He figured it out and DID it for two days at the fair, printing ten logos an hour on top of the water’s moving surface. To accomplish this, he built a shallow tank in the shape of a racetrack, about 30 feet in length with a waterwheel that kept the water flowing. Overtop of one side he placed two 30 x 40 inch screen frames. Using VERY oily colored pigments in black and red, he would press the paint through the screen and onto the water’s surface, being sure to layer the red logo atop the black. The logo would then float along the track, elongating in the corners, until it filtered out around the last turn.
Anyways, in late 70’s we opened at 54 Thompson Street. The most important and extraordinary piece of equipment we had was a vacuum table capable of printing 7 x 11 foot prints in as many colors as an artist could want in perfect register. Some of the Photorealists asked for, and got, as many as 100 colors.
In an interview, Norman stated:
The involvement of the artist with the screen-printing process was essential. At various points, certain procedures were coordinated with the artists through third parties. The artists or their representatives dictated all aesthetic decisions. Editions Lassiter-Meisel worked with a host of artists, among them: Richard Anuskiezwicz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Charles Bell, Tom Blackwell, Audrey Flack, Paul Jenkins, Theodore Stamos, Frank Stella, Romare Bearden and Andy Warhol.
What Warhol could not print in his own studio, his printer Rupert Smith would produce at ELM. Paul Jenkins would regularly spend days at ELM. He would arrive early with a bottle of bourbon, toss the cap in the trash, and finish it by the end of a very productive day. Stamos was always very persnickety and gruff, but the results were quite satisfying. For the Photorealists, the cutting of screens was far more tedious than painting and as a result they seldom did more than one edition. The Photorealists, Ralph Goings, Tom Blackwell, Audrey Flack, Ron Kleemann and Charles Bell each took as long as 3 years to create editions of 60 in up to 100 colors, printed on Masonite up to 4 x 6 feet, and able to be framed as if varnished oil paintings.”
There was nothing any artist could suggest or ask for that Norman demurred or denied. He found a way to invent and comply. During the 12 years the studio existed in New York, many historically important editions were produced. Norman then returned to Virginia and continued working with artists for another 12 years.
Included herein are images of some of the Photorealist works. While most editions were produced for artists and their publishers, the Photorealist works were published by Louis K. Meisel Gallery and the gallery has retained some of these editions for donations to credited museums. Requests are encouraged and entertained.