Jules Olitski: An Inside View, A Survey of Prints, 1954-2007

  • Jan 11, 2009 – Mar 29, 2009
Jules Olitski, "Without Sin (I)", 1994, monotype somerset texture white,
18 x 24 in. Courtesy of Knoedler & Company, New York.

Jules Olitski (1922-2007) is best known for his large, lyrical abstractions that glow with color saturated into the canvas—works that associate him with a group of artists called the “Color Field” painters. Less familiar are his smaller and more intimate prints. Olitski first ventured into printmaking in 1956, when he organized the first art department at C. W. Post College of Long Island University. His earliest prints were copper plate etchings, a multi-step process much less fluid and gestural than painting.

In the sixties, Olitski gravitated toward color lithography, which afforded him the freedom of gesture and subtle layering of color that reflected both the formal structure—a relatively open center bordered by multiple swaths of color at the perimeter—and the tonal discoveries of his Color Field paintings. The last nearly two decades of his printmaking practice were characterized by expressive brushstrokes and luminous color, particularly in exceptional monotypes pulled from sheets of glass that he had painted.

In a 1989 letter, Olitski asked the rhetorical question, “What's so exciting about making a print, any print? It has to be the dizzy-making moment—call it terror—that comes with the pulling of a print.” As the exhibition curator, Judith Stein, points out in the catalogue, “The process of printmaking, then, in contrast to painting, is not unlike the fancy footwork of Ginger Rogers,” characterized by a wag as doing everything backwards and in high heels.

The traveling exhibition, Jules Olitski: An Inside View, is organized by Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, Brattleboro, Vermont.

We have six galleries located on the first and second levels of the museum, view our gallery map.