Dorothy Antoinette (Toni) LaSelle

American, b. 1901 – d. 2002

 
 
 
     
Dorothy Antoinette LaSelle, No. 5, 1969
Cray-Pas (oil pastel) on paper, 14 x 11 inches
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
selected work
 
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    Dorothy Antoinette (Toni) LaSelle (born 1901, Beatrice, NE, died 2002 Denton, TX) earned a BA from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1923 and an MA from the University of Chicago in 1926. After working briefly at Stephens College in Missouri, she traveled to Europe and spent six months studying in England, Italy, and France. What started as a temporary position at Texas State College for Women (now Texas Women’s University), in Denton, Texas, in 1928, turned into a full time position when she became responsible for development of the art history program at the school. She remained at TSCW/TWU until her retirement in 1972, a dedicated teacher for 44 years.

LaSelle recognized the influence of both Hans Hofmann and Lazlo Moholy-Nagy on her painting practice, which by the mid-1930s was resolutely abstract, a lonely activity in a region steeped in narrative and representational traditions. While on sabbatical studying in San Francisco in 1932, she became interested in the work of Hans Hofmann, and in 1944, she enrolled in Hofmann's summer school in Provincetown, MA. After that time, she alternated between living part of the year in Denton and part of the year in Provincetown, at the artists' colony where she first went to study with Hofmann. Many artists established summer studios in Provincetown, and she rubbed elbows with Myron Stout (a friend from Denton, TX), Robert Motherwell, and many others.

In the summers of 1942 and 1943 she studied with Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, Gyorgy Kepes and Robert Bruce Tague at The School of Design in Chicago. In 1942, LaSelle was instrumental in inviting Moholy-Nagy to Denton, Texas to lecture. By the late 1940s, LaSelle gained some critical attention, with a solo exhibition of drawings at the Dallas Museum of Art (1948) and a New York solo exhibition at the Pinacotheca (Rose Fried Gallery) in June 1950. At Rose Fried, she exhibited 12 modestly scaled abstract paintings and 4 drawings. In 1959, the Fort Worth Art Center (now the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth) mounted a large retrospective of LaSelle’s work, and Hans Hofmann provided the foreword to the catalogue.

In her lifetime, two museums acquired Ms. LaSelle’s work, the Dallas Museum of Art (1972) and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1995). Since her passing in 2002 at the age of 100, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth have made significant acquisitions from the estate, and very recently, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston has selected five drawings to add to their collection.


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