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Jules Olitski

 (1922 - 2007)
Jules Olitski was active/lived in New York.  Jules Olitski is known for color-field abstraction, sculptor, graphics.

Jules Olitski

    oh-LIT-skee    click to hear

Biography from the Archives of askART

Color Field painter, Jules Olitski was a GI Bill student in Paris, where he had his first solo exhibition in 1951.  Later in New York, with his GI compatriot Ellsworth Kelly, "he explored the autonomy of materials in terms of a completely flat definition of shape and color."  He then investigated the staining techniques established by Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland, and Morris Louis, and finally in the 1960s arrived at the method of spray painting which has become his domain by right of accomplishment.  Olitski adopted a technique in which he employed airbrushes or squeegees, applying paint in a multilayered film.

Olitski, together with Larry Poons, Noland, Frankenthaler and Louis, was at the center of an absorbed interest in color which became especially prominent by the end of the 1950s--an interest given focus by a series of exhibitions organized by Clement Greenberg in 1958.

In the art of Jules Olitski, there is a sustained effort to produce a visual experience utterly unique to painting.  In the will to suppress any personal display, and to create a work of art that is only, but precisely, a visual event, one aspect of the Modernist tradition (

Jules Olitski forged in 1995 a new way of interpreting the landscape through his own unique use of color and form.  Over the last four years, working not only in his home on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, but in Connecticut and Florida as well, Olitski has produced a large body of monotypes, watercolors, pastels, acrylics and various mixed media combinations that range in size from large to small.

Most feature intense landscape forms - trees, cliffs, islands, sunrises and sunsets - expressed in thoughtful phantom moods that shimmer and radiate.  His latest expressive painting reveals the continuing development of one of America's finest painters.  In addition to having had over 150 solo exhibitions worldwide, his work is in the collections of the Australian National Gallery, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, The Israel Museum (Israel), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Museum of Modern Art (New York), National Gallery of Canada, Seattle Museum, Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York) (


Biography from the Archives of askART
Jules Olitski was born in Snovsk, Russia (now Shchors, Ukraine) on March 27, 1922. His father, Jevel Demikovsky, had been politically executed just before he was born. He was brought to the United States the following year by his mother and grandmother. His mother remarried three years later.  He showed an early love for drawing and attended art classes on Saturday morning in New York.  He studied portraiture at the National Academy of Design in New York City under Sidney Dickinson during the 1940s, then traveled to Paris where from 1949 through 1951 he studied at the Academie Grande Chaumiere and with Ossip Zadkine, the sculptor.

His work was growing steadily more abstract.  In the late 1950s he began incorporating heavy impastos and murky color in his painting and in 1960 his esthetic took an abrupt turn when, in his search for more original effects, he began dyeing large canvases.  He produced a large body of work in pure color but the art world was very slow to accept it and he lived from hand to mouth for a long time.

When success did come, he and his wife Kristina began living a very different life. During the winter months they live in the Florida Keys, on an island facing Florida Bay.  In the spring they move north to Bear Island, New Hampshire.  They also own a townhouse in the East Village of New York City. Kristina works right along with him, helping to mix colors and contributing to the Color Field path his work has taken him.

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:
John Gruen, in Architectural Digest
Valerie F. Brooks in ARTnews
Robert Hughes in Time, July 16, 1973.
From the internet,

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About  Jules Olitski

Born:  1922 - Shchors, Ukraine
Died:   2007 - New York City
Known for:  color-field abstraction, sculptor, graphics