Leslie J. Laskey Biography

Leslie J. Laskey




Leslie J. Laskey was born in Eastlake, Michigan on July 2, 1921. At the age of seventeen, Laskey participated in Orson Welles’ radio broadcast, The War of the Worlds. As a soldier in the U.S. Army during the Second World War, he participated in the invasion of Normandy and was among the troops that landed on Omaha Beach, early on D-Day, 1944.

After the war he studied at Indiana University and at the Institute of Design in Chicago (now the Illinois Institute of Technology) with founder and American Bauhaus pioneer Lászlò Moholy-Nagy. He then taught for three years at the School of Design at the University of North Carolina in Raleigh, during which time he was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation grant for work in graphic arts at Indiana University.

Laskey joined the Washington University faculty in 1956. Over the next three decades, he profoundly influenced generations of design students as a professor in the School of Architecture and earned numerous teaching honors, including the Distinguished Professor Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture in 1985-86. Yet he always remained open to learning from others and encouraged the collaboration of ideas. He found a kinship and spiritual father in Shiko Munakata (1903-1975), the internationally acclaimed Japanese woodblock artist.

Laskey’s legacy at the University is firmly rooted and continues to grow. In 1987, he was named professor emeritus, and in 2006, a group of his former students founded Studio L, an organization whose mission is to honor his teaching ethic and foster a living, evolving community of artists, friends, patrons, and students.

Neither retirement nor age have affected Laskey’s modus operandi. He teaches “ArtKamp” in the summer, and his personal production of art is still an important part of his life, whether it takes the form of the presentation of a uniquely “Laskey” meal or a major gallery opening. Forty-Seven Views of Leslie Laskey, a documentary film by David Wild that chronicles Laskey’s life over an 11-year period, premiered in 2012.

Laskey continues to work, live, love, and inspire, sharing his life with his partner of over fifty years, sculptor and architect Frank Schwaiger. He divides his time between St. Louis and Manistee, Michigan. Currently, he divides his time between St. Louis and Manistee, Michigan and is a Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. He was featured in a retrospective exhibit at the West Shore Community College’s Manierre Dawson Gallery in 2013.