Richard F. Lack
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 26, 1928.
Died in Saint Louis Park, Minnesota, September 22, 2009.
Richard F. Lack was one of the most versatile and influential pupils of Boston artist R. H. Ives Gammell. His artistic training began at the Minneapolis School of Art, but his interest in the classical traditions soon led him to the atelier of Ives Gammell, with whom he studied for five years in the Fenway Studios in Boston from 1950 to 1956. This training was interrupted for two years of service in the U.S. Army. In 1955 he traveled to Europe on a scholarship to study the Old Masters, particularly Peter Paul Rubens, whose work has greatly influenced him both in style and method. In 1957 he returned to Minneapolis with his wife, Katherine, bought a house and built a studio designed to simulate the lighting conditions recommended in the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci. There he began to paint a variety of work—still life, portrait, genre, landscape and imaginative paintings based on myth, history and the psychology of C. G. Jung. The superb quality of Lack’s work and the importance of his teaching methods earned him three scholarships from the Elizabeth T. Greenshields Memorial Foundation in Montreal, Canada as well as a grant from the John F. and Anna Lee Stacy Scholarship Fund.
In 1969 he founded Atelier Lack, Inc., a small, non-profit studio school of drawing and painting with an apprentice program based on the teaching methods of the 19th century French ateliers and the Boston impressionists. His sound training, experience with diverse painting methods and mastery of so many genres of painting made him a uniquely qualified teacher. For many years his atelier was the only place outside of Boston where students could be trained in that tradition and he has had several important students, including Allan R. Banks, Gary Hoffmann, James Childs, Paul DeLorenzo, Charles Cecil, Kirk Richards, Carl Samson and Jeffrey T. Larson. He retired from teaching in 1992 due to ill health.
During his long career Lack exhibited in eighty-seven solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, and won twenty-seven awards, medals and grants. In 1988 the Maryhill Museum of Art in Goldendale, Washington held a large retrospective of his work. Throughout his career Lack was a highly sought after portrait artist and he painted many notable figures, among them six portraits for the Kennedy family in Hyannisport, MA, a portrait for England’s future Earl of Wilmot and Minnesota Governors Wendell Anderson and Albert Quie. During recent years he devoted most of his time and energy to painting a series of large works, based on Jungian psychology, which depict man’s inner journey toward individuation and psychological wholeness.
Lack was the author of numerous articles on art including the influential booklet entitled On the Training of Painters with Notes on the Atelier Program. He edited the book Realism in Revolution: The Art of the Boston School. Lack was the co-founder of the Classical Realism Quarterly, the forerunner of the Classical Realism Journal. He was also the co-founder of The American Society of Classical Realism and, along with Stephen Gjertson and Don Koestner, a founding member of its Guild of Artists. Lack was later awarded emeritus membership in the Guild. One hundred sixty-three articles were written about him and his art including “Richard Lack’s System of Training Painters,” American Artist, Summer 1971 and “Is it Radical to Paint like Rembrandt?,” Twin Cities, July 1983. His biography, Richard F. Lack: An American Master, was published in 2001. Richard is listed in Who’s Who in American Art, Who’s Who in International Art and Antiques, Who’s Who in American Education and International Biographies. In 1989 the Minnesota Territorial Pioneers, Inc. named him Minnesotan of the Year.