Douglas Mazonowicz, British (1920 - 2001)

Douglas Mazonowicz

Douglas Howcroft Mazonowicz was born in Swindon, Wiltshire, England, June 4, 1920, the son of James and Lillian Mazonowicz. He was a 1939 graduate of the Swindon College of Art. He served in the British Army, Royal Tank Regiment, from 1941-1945. He also was a freelance artist and teacher of graphics at the Farnham College of Art in the UK. In 1968, he was appointed as a Research Associate of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. This was followed by a fellowship at the Rochester Museum and Science Center in Rochester, NY, in 1979. He was made a Fellow of the Explorers Club in 1987. Mazonowicz founded the Gallery of Prehistoric Paintings in Manhattan in 1975 which he operated for several years. Mazonowicz died on January 29, 2001, in Riverdale, New York.

In 1959, Mazonowicz decided to focus on "the accurate recording and copying of prehistoric paintings in various parts of the world. " For a number of years, he worked in the caves of Spain and France, North Africa and North America making screenprints of the art of prehistoric peoples. He made several trips to the Sahara to record the rock art of the Tassili Plateau resulting in prints made between 1967-1969. The artist had been part of an expedition to that area organized by the Archaeological Institute of America.

Mazonowicz wrote several books about prehistoric art including: Prehistoric Rock Paintings of Tassili n’ Ajjer (1969); In Search of Cave Art (1973); Voices from the Stone Age (1974), and The Hand of Man (1981). Videos and films featuring his works have also been created. The Smithsonian Institution sponsored three traveling exhibitions of his works which were viewed at over 100 locations. The British Arts Council sponsored a 4-year travelling exhibit of his art in Great Britain, 1965-1969.

Mazonowicz photographed the works he reproduced, using a slide projection of the work on drawing paper. Over the slide projection he drew black outline details of the painting. He then began to transfer the image using a silkscreen technique. A new screen was prepared for each color application. Mazonowicz used modern oil based colors instead of the mineral-based colors of the stone age artists. His goal was to faithfully preserve the rock paintings since they are subject to modern day pollution and vandals.

His art has been acquired for the permanent collections of the British Museum in London, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, the Cleveland Musem of Natural History, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Most recently, a collection of works by Mazonowicz was donated to the University of Bradford (UK) Department of Archaeological Sciences, by the artist’s brother, Denis Mason (Mazonowicz). These twenty-three hand-printed silkscreen works depict prehistoric art from France, Spain, North Africa, and six Etruscan tomb murals.

The work "Anteater" by Mazonowicz in the Fine Arts Collection was acquired during the 1970s, possibly purchased through a company called Transworld Art from New York. An exhibition of Mazonowictz’s silkscreen prints of prehistoric art was displayed in the Koren galleries in 1994. In a note from Mazonowicz received in 1992, he said the Luther work was "inspired by the Australian bark painting of an anteater." Subsequent review of the work by the Luther Biology Department faculty suggests the image is of a short-beaked echidna. The two mammals in Australia that are considered anteaters are a monotreme (echidna) and a marsupial (numbat).

Ref: "Prehistoric Art is an Endangered Species." The New York Times, November 9, 1975; "Douglas Mazonowicz." Contemporary Authors. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Company, 1976; Obituary, The New York Times, January 30, 2001; brad.ac.uk; Fine Arts Collection files

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