Nationally known artist Richard F. Lack, passed away on Tuesday, September 22, 2009. He is survived by his wife, Katherine; daughter, Susanna (Michael); sons, Peter (Paulette) and Michael, granddaughter Maren; extended family and countless friends.

Richard Lack was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 26, 1928, where he grew up among Scandinavian immigrant families. His father Fred A. Lack was a dentist whose family emigrated from Germany; his mother, Mildred Peterson, had parents who came from Norway.

After graduating from Roosevelt High School in 1946, Lack considered earning an Engineering degree from the University of Minnesota, but decided to focus instead on his passion for art. His artistic training began at the Minneapolis School of Art, but his interest in the classical traditions soon led him to New York City and then to the atelier of R. H. Ives Gammell in Boston. He is widely considered to be one of the most versatile and influential pupils of Gammell, with whom he studied for five years, from 1950 to 1956. Lack’s training was interrupted by two years of service in the U.S. Army where he was deployed in the Korean War as an intelligence specialist.

In 1953 Lack met Katherine Vietorisz while studying at Gammell’s summer studio in Provincetown, Cape Cod. Born in Budapest, Hungary, Katherine’s parents and siblings immigrated to the United States shortly after the end of WWII. She was an accomplished artist in her own right and crafted unique, handmade jewelry. In 1955 Lack traveled to Europe to study the Old Masters, particularly Peter Paul Rubens, whose work has greatly influenced him both in style and method. Shortly after returning he married Katherine.

In 1957 he returned to Minneapolis with his wife, bought a home in Glen Lake, and built a studio designed to simulate the lighting conditions recommended in the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci. There he began to paint a considerable body of work: still life, portrait, genre, landscape and paintings based on myth, history and the psychology of C. G. Jung. The disciplined beauty and striking imagery of Lack’s work and the importance of his teaching 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. Katherine worked as a graphic designer and continued to create exquisite, handmade jewelry.

In an iconoclastic age often marked by a lack of artistic discipline and misunderstanding of tradition, Lack fiercely preserved and energetically perpetuated the tradition he inherited as a member of the “Boston School,” one of the longest continuing schools of painting in the history of American art. He was an insightful and provocative advocate of the Western artistic tradition and his influence as an artist and educator in preserving the European cultural impact on American art foreshadowed today’s revived interest in the classical arts. For 22 years, Lack’s Minneapolis based studio-school provided a crucial link to the artistic traditions of Europe that rapidly disintegrated after the First World War. Lack had over 100 students in his full-time program, training some of the most accomplished and sought-after classical painters and his atelier acquired an international reputation. Atelier Lack has become a model for many small studio-schools throughout the United States and abroad. Lack retired from teaching in 1992. His former students, Cyd Wicker and Dale Redpath, are carrying on his teaching legacy at The Atelier in Minneapolis.

During his long career Lack exhibited widely throughout the United States, in both solo and group exhibitions, winning many awards and honors. In 1988, the Maryhill Museum of Art in Goldendale, Washington held a comprehensive and defining retrospective exhibition 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. He received the “Award of Excellence” from the California Art Club in 1995 for his outstanding work in the field of educating and encouraging the continuation of Traditional Painting. In 1999 the American Society of Portrait Artists honored him with their first Founder’s Award. For many years Lack was a member of the Minnesota Jung Association and 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. He loved music and was an accomplished violinist, and played for ten years in the Minnetonka Symphony Orchestra.

Lack coined the term “Classical Realism” in 1982 and it has since been used throughout the art world in reference to living painters working within the Western artistic tradition. He was one of the founding members of The American Society of Classical Realism and wrote numerous scholarly articles for the Classical Realism Quarterly and the Classical Realism Journal, as well as articles in other publications. He edited the book Realism in Revolution: The Art of the Boston School. His biography, Richard F. Lack: An American Master, was published in 2001. Lack is listed in Who’s Who in American Art, Who’s Who in International Art and Antiques and International Biographies. His work is in private and public collections throughout the United States and abroad and he has influenced thousands through his art, teaching and writing. When the art of the 20th century is finally assessed with insight and equity, Richard F. Lack’s influence and contribution will be seen as vital in preserving the great tradition of American painting.

Richard Lack, Peonies