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 Richard Joseph Anuszkiewicz  (1930 - )

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Lived/Active: New Jersey      Known for: optical art illusion, collage, graphics

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BIOGRAPHY for Richard Anuszkiewicz
Facts/Data
Birth
1930 (Erie, Pennsylvania)
 
Lived/Active
New Jersey


© Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY See Details


Often Known For
optical art illusion, collage, graphics

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
With a name synonymous with the Op Art movement, Richard Anuskiewicz first achieved international fame when he was included in a 1965 survey of "optical art" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Today he is recognized as one of the foremost colorists in American art, creating huge large-scale canvases.

He was born in Erie, Pennsylvania and trained at the Cleveland Institute of Art from 1948 to 1953 and then with Josef Albers at Yale University where he earned an M.F.A. degree in 1955.  Albers stirred his interest in the effects of color on perception but Anuszkiewicz did not actively pursue this matter until the 1960s when he worked in repeated geometric patterns, emanating in wave-like shapes from the center of the canvas.

In the 1970s, much of his work looked like computer printouts and were intended to investigate the effects of juxtaposed full intensity colors.  Unlike many Op-Art artists, his paintings are pleasing to the eye with smooth surfaces, and they give the impression that the design will continue beyond the framed edges.

In January 1999, a retrospective of his work was held at the Boca Raton Museum of Art in Florida.

Source:
Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art

Biography from D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc.:
Richard Anuszkiewicz was born into a Polish-immigrant family in Erie, Pennsylvania. Through a high school art teacher, Anuszkiewicz learned of Impressionist color theory, the Ostwald system of complementary colors, and the spectrum prism. Anuszkiewicz went on to study at the Cleveland Institute of Art (1948-1953), where he began to simplify landscapes and still lifes into studies of design and abstraction. Upon graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1953, Anuszkiewicz was awarded a Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship by the National Academy. In 1954 Anuszkiewicz went to Yale University where he and his roommate, artist Julian Stanczak, studied with Josef Albers. Anuszkiewicz received a Masters of Fine Art from Yale in 1955.

Through Albers, Anuszkiewicz learned of the Bauhaus and Paul Klee’s principles of color, which had an immediate effect on his work. In Albers’s course at Yale, the relativity of color was taught through color problems assigned to the students after each class. Albers did not teach a color theory with set rules, but rather taught a disciplined method of examination that encouraged students to look objectively at their paintings. While at Yale, Anuszkiewicz began to read the latest findings by psychologists on perception, which led to his master’s thesis, "A Study in the Creation of Space with Line Drawing." Focusing on perception, the thesis discussed five ways to create space: variety of line, overlapping, reduction of detail, perspective, and size.

In 1956 Anuszkiewicz attended Kent State University in Ohio where he received a Bachelors of Science in Education, as he planned to teach as a supplement to his painting. Anuszkiewicz later held visiting artist positions in 1967 at Dartmouth College and in 1968 at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cornell University, and Kent State University.

While at Kent State in 1956, Anuszkiewicz had a solo exhibition at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. In 1960 Anuszkiewicz had his first New York solo exhibition at the gallery The Contemporaries. The exhibited paintings juxtaposed sharply contrasted colors in calculated geometric compositions which provoked the viewer to see colors shifting and shimmering, forms reversing, and spatial depths adjusting. The compositions were self-contained and centralized and the colors shifted from figure to ground and vice-versa. The Museum of Modern Art purchased one of Anuszkiewicz’s paintings from the exhibition.

Museum interest in Anuszkiewicz continued to grow in the early 1960s. The Whitney Museum of American Art included Anuszkiewicz in its 1962 exhibition "Geometric Abstraction in America," its 1963 annual, and the 1967 exhibition "Art of the United States, 1670-1966." In 1963 the Museum of Modern Art featured Anuszkiewicz in its "Americans 1963" exhibition and Time magazine published a story on him. In MoMA’s 1965 exhibition "The Responsive Eye" curated by William Seitz, Anuszkiewicz was featured as one of the preeminent American Op artists. Also in 1965 Anuszkiewicz had his first solo exhibition with the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York, where he had further solo exhibitions in 1967, 1969, and 1973. Anuszkiewicz exhibited three works at the 1965 Corcoran Biennial in Washington, DC, in addition to making the Biennial’s exhibition poster. Anuszkiewicz was included in "American Art Today" at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and "American Painting Now" at the United States Pavilion at Expo ‘67 in Montreal, Canada.

Anuszkiewicz exhibited in "The Structure of Color" at the Whitney Museum in 1971 and the Corcoran Biennial in 1975. The Brooklyn Museum held a solo exhibition of Anuszkiewicz’s work in 1980, which traveled to the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1986 Anuszkiewicz exhibited at the Venice Biennale and in 1988 he was included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition "It All Begins with a Dot: Exploring Lines in 20th Century Art." More recently, Anuszkiewicz received the Lorenzo the Magnificent Award for career achievement at the Florence International Biennale of Contemporary Art in 2005.

In 2007 Anuszkiewicz was featured in "Optic Nerve: Perceptual Art of the 1960s" at the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio and in Op Art at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Germany. His work is currently in the traveling exhibition Psychedelic: Optical and Visionary Art Since the 1960s organized by David Rubin at the San Antonio Museum of Art. Anuszkiewicz will be included in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s exhibition "CLE OP: Cleveland Op Art Pioneers" on view April 11, 2011 to February 26, 2012.

Works by Richard Anuszkiewicz can be found in the following New York museums: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Brooklyn Museum. His work is also included in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania.

Submitted by D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc.

Biography from RoGallery.com:
A student of Josef Albers, 'Richard Anuszkiewicz shares Albers' fascination with shapes and their relationships to color.  Considered a major force in the op art movement, Anuszkiewicz is concerned with the optical changes that occur when different high-intensity colors are applied to the same geometric configurations.  Each of his prints has its own rhythm and, therefore, its own energy as part of a lyrical composition.  He has won many awards and has been a frequent exhibitor in museums throughout the world.

His work is included in the collections of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Fogg Museum of Harvard University in Cambridge, and the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Born in 1930 in Erie, Pennsylvania, Richard Anuszkiewicz grew to love painting at a very early age.  He developed his education at various colleges including a B.F.A.
from the Cleveland Institute of Art, a M.F.A from Yale University, studying under the highly influential color theorist Josef Albers, and finally a Bachelor of Science degree from Kent State University in Ohio.

In 1957 he moved to New York City where he soon received critical success in various one-man exhibitions as well as acquisitions by the Museum of Modern Art and inclusion in the Whitney Museum of American Art Annual Exhibition in
1963.  By 1965, Anuszkiewicz had firmly established himself as the Optical art movement leader by his inclusion in an historically important exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, The Responsive Eye.

Op-art refers to the idea of" optical illusion" or of creating the illusion of movement. "Op art is direct and requires little previous knowledge of art.  Children, as Anuszkiewicz has noted, delight in it.  Other viewers are aware of formal structure, relationships, and complexities but are just as delighted. This art appeals on as many levels as there are levels of awareness and experience."

Working diligently from his Englewood, New Jersey studio, Richard Anuszkiewicz has "expanded his art so that it no longer fits any recognized category.  Because of the mathematical precision of his working methods and formats and his long-standing preoccupation with the psychology and physiology of visual perception, Anuszkiewicz has been labeled a 'scientific' painter... However, critics have discovered the highly individual cadence of music and poetry and hints of the seasons and atmosphere, of sunrise, twilight, and sunset."

"Color is at once the most striking aspect of Richard Anuszkiewicz's art and the most profound, often forming the basis for his compositions. 'Color function becomes my subject matter,' he has said, 'and its performance is my painting.'  A major contemporary artist, Anuszkiewicz has long been noted for the cool geometry of his compositions, his impeccable technique, and, above all, the luminous evocative shimmer of his colors."

As a result of a one-man show at The Contemporaries in New York City in 1960, the Museum of Modern Art bought two of his paintings, and he was off and running. More than 100 solo shows and representation in almost three times that many group exhibitions followed.  Anuszkiewicz’s work is owned by close to 100 public, and countless private and corporate, collections in the U.S. and abroad; he has executed nearly a dozen large murals and public art commissions and received several prestigious awards.

It was not until Anuszkiewicz, who was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1930, returned to the Midwest to take a degree in education at Kent State University (where he later taught) that he really began the experiments “with full-intensity complementary colors—blues on reds, greens on reds” that set him on his own groundbreaking path.

In 1964, a Life magazine writer called him "The New Wizard of Op."  More recently, while reflecting on a New York City gallery show of Anuszkiewicz's from 2000, the New York Times art critic Holland Cotter described Anuszkiewicz's paintings by stating, "The drama -- and that feels like the right word -- is in the subtle chemistry of complementary colors, which makes the geometry glow as if light were leaking out from behind it." Anuszkiewicz has exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Florence Biennale and Documenta, and his works are in permanent collections internationally.

Biography from The Columbus Museum of Art, Georgia:
American painter, printmaker and sculptor Richard Anuszkiewicz (pronounced "Anna-skÈv-ich") was born of Polish parents in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1930. Although his use of bright colors may seem to relate to Polish folk art, he really is a product of the American environment. (1)  He drew even as a small child and studied in his vocational high school in Erie with a gifted teacher, Joseph Plavan.  It was Plavan taught him the Ostwald system of complimentary colors and the spectrum prism.

Anuszkiewicz won several National Scholastic Magazine competitions, regional scholarships and a national scholarship, which enabled him to go to the Cleveland Institute of Art from 1948 until 1953.  It was in Cleveland that Anuszkiewicz began to move away from realism and into design and abstraction.

He won a Pulitzer scholarship in 1953, to study at the National Academy of Design and then went on to study with Josef Albers at the Yale University School of Art and Architecture where he received a Master of Fine Arts in 1955.  It was also while he was at Yale that he began to study the psychology of perception and he began to develop his theories on how the eye organizes visual material according to those psychological laws. (2)

His early work resembled the Regionalists of the 1930s and 40s. (3)  In his paintings of the late 1940s and early 1950s, he depicted everyday city life.  However, in 1955, while still a student at Yale, he made a couple of studies that clearly revealed his future interests in color and line. 

In 1957, he moved to New York, where from 1957 to 1958, he worked as a conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and from 1959 to 1961, as a silver designer for Tiffany and Co.  During this period, he began to produce abstract paintings, using either organic or geometric repeated forms.  These led in the early 1960s to asymmetric and imperfectly geometric works and then to more rigidly structured arrangements.

Anuskiewicz's first show in New York of what are now called "Op Art" paintings occurred at The Contemporaries Gallery in 1960.  The Museum of Modern Art in New York purchased one of the paintings from that exhibition.  In 1963, Anuszkiewicz participated in shows at the Museum of Modern Art and The Whitney Museum of American Art and was the subject of a complimentary article in Time magazine.

Following the publication of that article, Anuszkiewicz sold 17 paintings in one month.  His first one-person show at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York was in 1965.  According to Janis, Anuszkiewicz was in such demand in the mid-1960s that the waiting list of people wanting to buy his work was longer than Jackson Pollock's, whom Janis also represented.  Anuszkiewicz also participated that year in the landmark show "The Responsive Eye" at the Museum of Modern Art.  By this time, Anuszkiewicz had firmly established himself as the leader in the Optical Art movement.

Anuszkiewicz has acknowledged the importance of color in defining his subject matter. (4)  He often incorporated geometrical networks of colored lines, thus exploring the phenomenon of optical mixtures in these mature works, with which he made his contribution to Optical art.  Optical art (or "Op art") refers to the idea of "optical illusion" or of creating the illusion of movement.  A pioneer in this non-representational movement, Anuszkiewicz applied pigments directly to the canvas to mix optically instead of blending them on the palette.  The strong internal structure of each work is the result not of a rigid system, however, but of a trial-and-error approach to composition.  Intensity of color coupled with a warm light condition cause a visually vibrant composition, which, in turn, causes an afterimage to occur.

In his later works, he remained faithful to the approach he established in the 1960s while developing more subtle color modulations and sophisticated geometry.


Source:
(1). Karl Lunde, Anuszkiewicz (New York: H. N. Abrams, 1977), 13-14.
(2) . Lunde, 2  James Gibson and Rudolf Arnheim were the faculty members that made an impression upon Anuszkiewicz.
(3). John Green, Art News, September 1979, 68.
(4). Szymon Bojko, “Richard Anuszkiewicz,” Contemporary Artists, 2nd Edition.

Submitted by Bitsy Winsdor and Tom Butler, Columbus Museum

Biography from Boca Raton Museum of Art:
Richard Anuszkiewicz, ( American Born Pennsylvania 1930 - )

A leading exponent of OpArt, Anuszkiewicz studied at Cleveland Institute of Art and then at Yale University under Josef Albers.  Albers stimulated his interest in the effects of color on perception but it was not until about 1960 that he started to address this in his painting.  Prior to studying with Albers, he had nine years of realism behind him.  He became known for non-objective paints that vibrates and glow with complementary colors to a fluorescent effect, and has maintained a consistent style for more than three decades.  Anuszkiewicz is still experimenting with the effects of such colors when juxtaposed and the optical changes that occur as a result, when using radiating expanses.  He is also intrigued with manipulating opaque and transparent space with lines.  The artist says, “I hope that my work s create a kind of distilled beauty. To me beauty is a very positive word. When you look at real flowers or the sunset or some intense color, as in a rainbow, it leaves you with a strong feeling, at least it does to me” Geometric works seem to pulsate with black and white shapes or the interaction of violent colors.

His works have been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Documenta, Florence Biennale amongst others where he received his latest recognition “The Lorenzo de Medici Career Award.”

Information provided by The Boca Raton Museum of Art. Catalina Torres (Intern)

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