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 – at first glace, some Olitski viewers dismiss his work from this period as simply being a mass of color. 

Olitski works invite you in, to lose yourself in their color, to consider how it is created and contained on the picture plane. He wants the viewer to think about the conventions and strategies used by his active contemporaries and predecessors in abstraction. 

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

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

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

This painting is an exceptional output from this remarkable Olitski era, it demonstrates his fascinating technique and expertise as a colorist. Delicate shades of heather purple, mauve, and deep periwinkle are sensitively combined in a soft gradation. While there is typically a blatant range of tone and density in his work, the nearly monochromatic palette disguises subtle shifts on the canvas, creating a piece that is remarkably consistent. The result is an airy, whimsical, and almost impressionistic composition.

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). 

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USA, 1967

Acrylic on paper and canvas

Signed and dated by artist verso

30.5"H 22.5"W (work)

31.5"H 23.5"W (framed)

Very good condition.

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