Jules Olitski’s paintings surged with colours. They are extraordinarily pleasant because they are all about colour – warm, soft, opulent reds, mauves, saffron’s pinks, green and blues rebound in vaporous waves from each canvas.
The Russian born artist, after studying portraiture at New York’s National Academy of Design, attended the Ossip Zadkine School in Paris under the GI Bill. During the ’60s his painting has become increasingly abstract, and a natural line of descent can be developed from such artists as Rothko, Still and Newman through Morris Louis to Olitski, and other leading American Painters.
Olitski’s single-minded commitment to flooding his canvases with colour differentiated by the spray, the medium has been compared to the composer Edgar Varese’s dedication to using pure noise as a way to make music. Another observer has likened Olitiski’s work to projected colour transparencies of a sensitised window shade at various stages of sunrise and sunsets, with colour charts on the side.
Insisting that colour has dimension, Olitski sometimes creates an illusion that colour casts its own shadow. Thus his canvases may become monochromatic. His most significant personal contribution during this era, however, is his use of a tilted foreshortened angle of vision which rediscovers and extends a method of creating space initiated by Claude Monet around 1890. The difference is Olotski’s colour slants away from view, while Monet slanted tangible objects, such as the surface of water.
Says Olitiski, “Paint becomes a painting when colour establishes surface.” So he does entirely away with painting’s natural frontality and transparency. Surface obliquely viewed becomes visible, while the band of colours at the sides of his pictures function as an appropriate way for the viewer’s eye to depart the picture. An openness of colour is achieved by letting colour speak for itself. And where an interior” frame” is visible within the framed field, there is a total absence of linear contours aimed at limiting and defining shapes within the canvas. Otliski creates illusions of obliqueness through the use of colour.
For further information you may be interested in
Jules Olitski: Passages Paperback – 20 March 2002
Jules Olitski: The New Hampshire Exhibits Autumn 2003
By Lauren Poster
115 color plates of paintings, landscapes on paper, life drawings monoprints and sculptures.