Jules Olitski’s paintings surged with colours. They are delightful because they are all about colour – warm, soft, opulent reds, mauves, saffron’s pinks, greens, and blues rebound in vaporous waves from each canvas.
After studying portraiture at New York’s National Academy of Design, the Russian-born artist attended the Ossip Zadkine School in Paris under the GI Bill. During the ’60s, his painting became 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, compared to the composer Edgar Varese’s dedication to using pure noise 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 sunset, 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. However, his most significant personal contribution during this era 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 water’s surface.
Otliski creates illusions of obliqueness through the use of colour. Says Olitiski, “Paint becomes a painting when colour establishes surface.” So he does entirely away with the painting’s natural frontality and transparency. The surface obliquely viewed becomes visible, while the band of colours at the sides of his pictures functions as an appropriate way for the viewer’s eye to depart the concept. An openness to 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.
Summary of Works
Additional reading you may be interested in
Jules Olitski: Passages Paperback – 20 March 2002
Jules Olitski: The New Hampshire Exhibits Autumn 2003
By Lauren Poster
One hundred fifteen colour plates of paintings, landscapes on paper, life drawings, monoprints and sculptures.