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 Julian Stanczak  (1928 - )

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Lived/Active: Ohio      Known for: op-art, colorist painting, corporate murals

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The Op Art movement was named for Julian Stanczak's first exhibition in New York.  Held at the Martha Jackson Gallery in 1964, the exhibition was titled "Julian Stanczak Optical Paintings." Stanczak's work was included in the major exhibition of Op Art at New York's Museum of Modern Art (the exhibition was titled "The Responsive Eye"), and it was reproduced in articles in Time and Life magazines pertaining to Op Art.  In 1966, Stanczak was named an "Outstanding Artist, USA" by Art in America magazine.  Although his work remains connected to the Op Art movement, Stanczak is primarily a colorist, and his use of optical mixture and interaction of color has been said to be perhaps the most sophisticated in the history of art.

Stanczak was born on his grandfather's farm in eastern Poland in 1928.  At the beginning of World War II, this aspiring young musician was forced into a Siberian labor camp, where he permanently lost the use of his right arm (he had been right-handed).  In 1942, Stanczak (age 13) escaped from Siberia to join the Polish army-in-exile in Persia. After deserting from the army, he spent his teenage years in a hut in a Polish refugee camp in Uganda, Africa.  It was in Africa that Stanczak learned to paint (left-handed).  He then moved to England and the United States, where he eventually settled in Cleveland.

Stanczak's most influential formal training was in the Bauhaus tradition: he was a student of Josef Albers at Yale University, where he received his MFA in 1956. While at Yale, his roommate was fellow Op artist Richard Anuszkiewicz.

In addition to his work as a painter and print maker, Stanczak has had a distinguished career as a teacher.  From 1957 to 1964, Stanczak taught at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.  He was Professor of Painting at the Cleveland Institute of Art from 1964 until he retired in 1995.  He has served as artist in residence or visiting lecturer at numerous colleges and universities, including Dartmouth College, Washington University, MIT and The Corcoran School of Art.

Stanczak's work is in over 70 museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Art, The Hirshhorn Museum, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Milwaukee Art Museum, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Princeton University Art Museum, and all of the major Ohio Museums as well as museums in Canada, Mexico, Germany and Poland.

In 1990, the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo published a monograph on Stanczak's work titled Decades of Light.  A second monograph was published in 1998 by the Butler Institute of American Art to accompany a travelling retrospective of Stanczak's work.  In a major review in the Los Angeles Times, David Pagel said that "the exhibition stands out as one of the most scintillating shows of the year."  More than 20 museums acquired paintings for their permanent collections during the tour of the exhibition.

Submitted by Neil Rector, President of Contemporary Collections, Ltd., in Columbus, Ohio.

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