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Lynn Trank Memorial Exhibition

August 13 - September 25, 2005


A memorial exhibition to celebrate the life and work of the late Lynn E. Trank goes on view August 13, 2005 at the Tarble Arts Center, Eastern Illinois University. Featured is art both created by and collected by Trank. The exhibition continues through September 25. Admission and parking are free, and the public is invited. (right: Lynn Trank, The Artist, 1957, graphite on paper; gift of the artist, Tarble Arts Center Permanent Collection)

Trank was an artist, educator, and collector who served on the Art faculty of Eastern Illinois University from 1952 to1984. He passed away in 2004. Making up the exhibition are drawings, intaglios, watercolors, oil paintings, enameling, jewelry, and sculpture created by Trank from throughout his sixty-plus years as an artist. The art is from the Tarble Arts Center's permanent collection and on loan from area collectors. There are also a few examples of work by other artists selected from the art that Trank donated to the Tarble's collection.

The exhibition demonstrates Trank's breadth of style. There are realistic renderings, book illustrations, and Mexican-inspired enameled pieces featuring birds and flowers. But Trank was primarily a Modernist and is probably best known for his landscapes and still lifes ­ oils and watercolors in which outline and color are heightened to create strong silhouettes and faceted compositions. The works range from a very realistic self-portrait in pencil dated 1938 to an abstract watercolor landscape completed shortly before the artist's death.

As well as the strong sense of composition found throughout his art, there is an underlying sense of ironic humor in much of Trank's work. This is most evident in the 1957 drawing titled "The Artist." In this tall, slender composition a figure holding a pencil balances an antenna-like sculpture on his nose. On the sculpture are perched elements found in other examples of Trank's art -- figure studies, African and pre-Columbian art, flowers, birds animals, and more. Most likely this is a visual metaphor of Trank trying to balance the many different interests in his life and in his art.

Born in Cook, Nebraska, in 1918, Trank received a BFA from the University of Nebraska in 1942, and a second BFA in 1948 from Washington University (St. Louis). In between these degrees he was a sergeant with the U.S. Air Corps' 405th Fighter Group, 510th Fighter Squadron. While stationed in Europe he became a nose cone artist, painting images on the planes of his and other squadrons' aircraft. He earned an MFA from the University of Iowa in 1950, and a PhD from The Ohio State University in 1964.

While at Washington University he studied with Philip Guston and Max Beckmann, and studied printmaking with Mauricio Lasansky at Iowa and with Alfredo Zalce in Mexico. Trank's work has been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and many other institutions in the Midwest. His work can be found in the Philadelphia Library Print Collection, the Des Moines Art Center, the Evansville Museum of Arts and Science, the J.B. Speed Art Museum (Louisville), the Swope Museum of Art (Terre Haute, IN), and other institutions' collections.

At Eastern Trank taught drawing, painting, and printmaking, and served two years as director of the Paul T. Sargent Gallery. He also became the de facto curator of the university's collection of original prints the university began to acquire about the time Trank joined the faculty. Under his stewardship, the lithographs and intaglios by Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, John Steuart Curry, Raphael Soyer, William Gropper, and other noted artists of the period were retained and now serve as the core of the American Scene/Regionalist collection housed at the Tarble Arts Center. The permanent collection further benefited from Trank's personal collection through the many works donated by him. These include a selection of pre-Columbian Mexican artifacts, and works on paper, including prints by noted American artists Leonard Baskin and Jack Coughlin, and American Scene artists Adolph Dehn and Luigi Lucioni. Lynn Trank died on November 23, 2004, in Savoy, Illinois.


Editor's note: For further information on the artist please see a web page pubished by the 510th Fighter Squadron Association.

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