Richard Lack spent his life determined to revive and sustain painting traditions.After graduating from the Minneapolis School of Art, he moved to Boston for give years and studied the traditional methods of drawing and painting; he then studied the old masters - especially Peter Paul Rubens - on a scholarship in Europe. When Lack returned to Minneapolis in 1957, he prepared his home studio based on the lighting designs details in Leonardo da Vinci's.
In 1969 he opened a small school, the Atelier Lack, based on the 19th-century apprentice system of drawing and painting. For many years this was the only site outside of Boston offering this method. Although he retired from teaching in 1992, the Atelier goes on.
Lack used the term "Classical Realism" for his approach, explaining in 1982 that, "Obviously, the simple work 'realism,' when applied to painting, has become so broad in its sweep and general in its application that it is no longer meaningful." His portraits were in high demand and his subjects included several Kennedy family members and two Minnesota governors.
Lack felt that portrait photography could provide only what was "instantaneous and fleeting." Portraiture, on the other hand, was a "summing up, a synthesis of varied aspects of the sitter observed and selected over a period of time." Richard Lack died in September 2009.