Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery

at Keene State College

Keene, NH

(603) 358-2720


Jules Olitski: Monoprints, 1994-1999


American artist Jules Olitski will open the 1999-2000 season at the Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery with a lecture and exhibit of his monoprints. Olitski will feature monoprints completed within the last five years for his third exhibition at The Thorne. The exhibit will be on display from Sept. 10 through Oct. 17, 1999.

Olitski, 77, made his mark in the art world in the 1960s, and was heralded as the best living abstract painter by formalist critic Clement Greenberg. He had his first solo exhibition in 1967 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and in 1969 was the first living artist ever to have a solo sculpture exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Considered a color-field painter, Olitski produces works that are freer and less severe than many artists associated with the 1960's abstraction movement. He has experimented with various media during his long career and introduced the use of the industrial spray gun to apply thick layers of paint to large canvases. (left: Paradise Lake II, monoprint)

During the 1990s, Olitski started painting landscapes inspired by sunrises and sunsets at his summer home on New Hampshire's Lake Winnepesaukee and his winter haven in the Florida Keys. When 40 such works were exhibited in 1996 at the Thorne- Sagendorph Art Gallery, "New Yorker" magazine writer Dodie Kazanjian considered Olitski's landscapes more abstract than not and "so gorgeous that they risk critical scoldings."

Similar landscapes are captured in the 40 monoprints painstakingly created by Olitski on metal plates fed through a press at the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford. Since 1994, Olitski has spent two weeks each year at the Connecticut school creating prints on a Dufa #4 German off-set press, one of four such newspaper presses still operating. in the United States.

Olitski paints directly on a single plate that picks up paint, places it on the press' rollers, and then transfers the image to paper, explains artist assistant Kim Colligan, who works with Olitski at a family studio in Jacksonville, VT. Although the monoprints are in color, Olitski uses only a single plate rather than four separate plates used in the 4-color printing process. This makes each monoprint unique allowing for about five or six similar looking prints to be made from the same plate.

It usually takes a day for Olitski to create one monoprint, so during the last five years he has produced around 70 works during his bi-weekly stays at the Hartford Art School. The 40 works in the Thorne exhibit were chosen by Director Maureen Ahern based on size, color, and variation in landscapes.

"I tried to choose five or six from each of the years he's worked at the school to give a balanced overview of his work," explains Ahern. "I also looked for things that were different from the work in the 1996 exhibit, for example, he's added figures to his landscapes."

Read more about Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery at Keene State College in Resource Library Magazine.

Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.

This page was originally published in 1999 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

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