Archive for Sunday, December 9, 2001

Printmaker left vivid impression

December 9, 2001


Kansas University professor emeritus of printmaking John Talleur knew how to make an impression.

When Talleur and a group of his students in the late '60s or early '70s reassembled an old handpress that they'd carried in pieces from Chicago to KU, the weight of it broke the floor right above the chancellor's office in Strong Hall.

"We ended up immediately on the top of the list of programs to get a new facility," said Peter Thompson, a KU professor of art who worked with Talleur. "That's when the Art & Design Building came into being."

Talleur, who pioneered KU's printmaking program, died in late November after a long illness. He was 76.

A private memorial celebration will be in the spring.

Talleur's daughter, KU student Ann Talleur, remembers her father saying "Ars longa, vita brevis," Latin for "Art is long, life is short."

"He would say that maybe once a day, often right before pouring himself a drink. He was a gin-and-tonic aficionado," Ann Talleur said.

"He had a strong belief in doing what you wanted to do as soon as you possibly could."

That playful spontaneity inevitably surfaced in the classroom.

"He was very energetic," Ann Talleur said. "He was the type that would jump onto the desks and yell and scream."

Brian Pyle, a former student and assistant of Talleur's, noted that Talleur had mastered the balance between bluntly challenging yet still encouraging his students.

"In order to further the teaching process, he would be whimsical at times and very serious at times. He would take his clues from the students," Pyle said.

"There was no lovey-dovey, touchy-feely critique with him. When you put your art on the wall, you are responsible for it, and he would take you to task."

John Talleur retired after teaching for 40-plus years at KU. He had received his bachelor's degree at the Art Institute of Chicago and his master's degree from the University of Iowa.

Several years ago, he donated six of his personal printing presses to the Lawrence Arts Center. So far, the center hasn't had space to use the presses, director Ann Evans said. But when the new facility opens in the spring, it will include a printmaking studio.

"It's a wonderful way for this very special professor to be remembered," Evans said. "It's a fabulous gift to the community that he has given."

Talleur also left his extensive collection of prints to KU's Spencer Museum of Art. He donated about 90 prints several years ago, said Steve Goddard, Spencer's curator of prints and drawings. The rest of Talleur's collection somewhere near 80 prints has been promised as a gift.

Goddard, a printmaker himself, taught several classes with Talleur when he was still at the university.

"He's one of those people who really inspired many of his students," Goddard said. "He was a great model of someone who really lived by a love of art. It kind of dictated everything he did."

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