Jules Olitski


Jules Olitski (1922-1977) is one of the most collected and accomplished artists associated with the color-field movement, if not 20th century American abstraction. 

Possibly one of the most "demanding" abstract artists - appreciating Olitski is not always easy.  Some people, on first glance, dismiss his work from this period as simply being a mass of color. 

But Olitski asks you to get up close to the work, to loose yourself in the color, to consider how its created and contained on the picture plane...He wants the viewer to think about the conventions and strategies used by his contemporaries and predecessors active in abstraction. 

Throughout his lengthy career Olitski experimented with different techniques, creating a body of work that was dynamic and ever changing.  One of Olitski's most radical reinventions occurred in the mid-1960's when he adopted industrial sprays.

During this period the leading American abstract artists were staining their canvases or taping up surfaces for hard-edge compositions. Olitski's spray was either an evolution or an abandonment of this approach, depending on one's perspective.

The spray technique produced minuscule droplets of vibrant color that float like a mist or dew on the canvas. Olitski continued to spray the paint on his canvases, creating works that were highly innovative and nuanced and unlike anything his contemporaries were creating. 

This painting is an exceptional example from this remarkable era. Not only as it demonstrates his fascinating technique, but it was realized in an atypical small format. The color is also somewhat unusual for its saturated combination of persimmon, red and magenta. 

At the time this painting was created Olitski was arguably the leading artist of the American avant-garde. In 1966 he co-represented the United States at the Venice Biennale, followed by one man exhibitions at the Corcoran Gallery (1967) and the Metropolitan Museum (1969). Olitski canvases from this era, in such a radiant  color, rarely come to market. 

Questions about this piece? Contact us or call +1.416.704.1720


Signed, titled and dated by the artist verso

(Along with various other artist notations verso)

Acrylic on canvas

USA, 1968

21"H 9.5"W (work)

Original period frame

Very good condition.

Provenance: Hackett Mill (San Francisco)

Private Collection (Toronto) 

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