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 Lillian Orlowsky  (1914 - 2004)

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Lived/Active: New York/Massachusetts      Known for: Black American theme performance art, layered drawing

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Ad Code: 3
Lillian Orlowsky
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following obituary notice, submitted August 2004, is courtesy of Jim Keefe.


PROVINCETOWN - Lillian Orlowsky died Saturday, August 7, 2004 at home in Provincetown after a long and productive life in the arts as a painter, teacher, curator, critic and mentor in both Provincetown and New York.  She was 89.

Born in New York City, she and her late husband, artist William Freed, came to Provincetown in 1938 to study with noted artist Hans Hofmann.  For the rest of their lives they spent six months in New York City and six months in the house/studio they built in 1960 in Provincetown.

In the last week of her life, a show of her oils from the 1940s and 1950s opened at Cherry Stone Gallery in Wellfleet where it will be shown until mid August.  A profile of her has just appeared in the Provincetown Arts Magazine and a recent interview with her will be aired by WOMR (92.1 FM) Provincetown on August 13th.  She was scheduled to teach a one-week intensive course on composition beginning on August 16 at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, where she has served as a Director and a member of the Acquisitions Committee.  She was also actively involved in planning for a major retrospective of her work scheduled for 2005 at the Cape Museum of Fine Arts in Dennis and at PAAM.

Lillian Orlowsky knew she had lived through a revolutionary period in American art.  As she put it: "I was fortunate to have taken part in one of the most important periods of art in this century.  The 1930's through the 1950's saw a cultural upheaval where diverse concepts in painting went from one extreme to another: from realism to abstraction."  In studying with Hofmann, she moved, as she said, "From unconscious cubism to an understanding of the picture plane.  He made me realize that you don't imitate nature," but recreate it.

Orlowsky's early paintings are characterized by vibrant color, and her later works by expressionist use of line.  She often painted pictures of a doll she had from her youth.  The paintings recreate her responses to the doll over many years as she matured both as an artist and a person.  The early paintings are highly realistic, the later ones expressionist and semi-abstract.  She was very much aware of the constraints being a woman had on her life and art.  However, in her characteristically forthright way, she was emphatic about not wanting to be called "a woman painter." "Not because I am anti-feminist, " as she put it, but because "I don't paint like a woman. I don't know how a woman paints.  I don't think like a woman painter, I think like a painter."

Lillian Orlowsky began her art studies at the Educational Alliance on the Lower East Side of New York City.  Recognized early as an up and coming artist by the Works Progress Administration where she held the coveted position of "easel artist", she was one of the few remaining WPA artists.  She showed regularly throughout her life in both New York and Provincetown as well as throughout the US and in Japan, France, Denmark and the Czech Republic.  In New York she showed at the ACA Gallery, James Gallery and Esther Stuttman Gallery.  In Provincetown she showed at the HCE Gallery, Tirca Karlis Gallery and Cortland Jessup Gallery and in Wellfleet at Cherry Stone Gallery.  In addition to painting she worked at a variety of art-related jobs. In the 40's and 50's she was a textile designer.  From 1959 to 1962, she was Director of the James Gallery, a cooperative gallery that was part of the avant-garde group of galleries in the Tenth Street area. From 1963 to 1977 she taught drawing and painting at Bronx House in New York,

Orlowsky painted and exhibited widely throughout her life, but in her last ten years she gained substantial recognition.  In 1995 she had a three gallery retrospective at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, the Cortland Jessup Gallery in Provincetown and Cherry Stone Gallery in Wellfleet.  She exhibited at the University of Virginia at Blacksburg, where she also taught a master class, traveled to Japan with a group of artists from the Cortland Jessup Gallery, received a grant from the Richard Florsheim Art Fund, participated in numerous programs on the WPA artists and sold to major collectors.  She is represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Baltimore Museum of Fine Art, the Cape Museum of Fine Art, the Jerusalem Museum, and the Rose Museum of Brandies University.

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts recently acquired one of her works.

In addition to her painting and teaching, Lillian Orlowsky curated two major shows for PAAM.  The first was in 1990, "The Provocative Years, 1925-1945: Hans Hofmann and His Students in Provincetown, MA"; the second was in 2000, "Hans Hofmann: Four Decades in Provincetown."

A Memorial Service will be held at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum
460 Commercial St, Provincetown in the fall at a date and time to be announced.

Biography from ACME Fine Art:
Educational Alliance Art School, New York, 1932–1933
National Academy of Design, New York, 1933–1934
American Artist School (Raphael and Moses Soyer, Anton Refrigier),
New York, 1935–1936
Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art, New York and Provincetown, MA, 1937–1947

Selected Exhibitions:
New York World’s Fair, New York, 1939
Educational Alliance Alumni, Educational Alliance, New York,1945, 1946
Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM), Provincetown, MA, 1950–1991
Gallery Artists, Tirca Karlis Gallery, Provincetown, MA, 1962–1976
“Works Progress Administration (WPA), Then and Now.” Parsons School of Design, New York, 1977
“The Co-ops of the Fifties.” Parsons School of Design, New York, 1977“Days Lumberyard Studios: Provincetown 1914–1971.”
PAAM, Provincetown, MA, 1978
“Hans Hofmann and His Students.” Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1979
PAAM, Provincetown, MA, 1980
Goddard College, Plainfield, VT
Adelphi College, NY, 1980
Hofstra College, Long Island, NY, 1981
Ingber Gallery, New York, NY
“WPA Artists.” Hofstra College, Long Island, NY, 1983
“WPA Artists: Fiftieth Anniversary.” City Gallery of New York,
New York, 1984
Provincetown Artists Gallery, Provincetown, MA
“The Gathering of the Avante-Garde: The Lower East Side 1950–1970.” Kenkelebra House, New York, NY, 1985
Selected Works. National Council on Aging, Washington, DC
“The Assembled Image: An Exhibition of Collage and Construction.” (Curators: Jim Forsberg and Paul Bowen), PAAM, Provincetown, MA, 1989
“The Artist’s Eye.” (Curator: Peter Hutchinson), PAAM, Provincetown, MA
“WPA Artists.” New Brunswick College, NJ
“The Provocative Years, 1935–1945: Hans Hofmann and His Students in Provincetown.” PAAM, Provincetown, MA,1990
“The Artist’s Eye.” (Curator: Jim Lechay), PAAM, Provincetown, MA, 1991
Cape Museum of Fine Arts, Dennis, MA, 1992
“USA on Paper.” City Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1993
Gallery Artists, Gallery Zhouf, Wellfleet, MA
Vernissage Le Samedi, Nimes, Uzes, France
Gallery K + B, Prague, Czech Republic
Cherrystone Gallery, Wellfleet, MA
Selected Works. Office de la Culture D’Uzes, Nimes, France, 1994
Gallery A, Most, Czech Republic
“Provincetown Abstract Painting 1915–1950; From the Collection of Penny and Elton Yasuna.” PAAM, Provincetown, MA
“New York: Provincetown – A ‘50s Connection.” PAAM, Provincetown, MA
PAAM, Provincetown, MA, 1995
“Provincetown Then and Now.” St. Botolph Club, Boston, MA, 1998
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA (solo exhibition)
“The Art Colony (First Century).” PAAM, Provincetown, MA
National Arts Club, New York City, NY, 2000
School House Gallery, Provincetown, MA (solo exhibition)
“A Lifetime of Art” Beauregard Fine Art, Rumson, NJ (solo)
“A Community of Artists: The Collection of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum” (traveling exhibition) Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples, FL, 2002-2005
Gustavus Adolphus College, St Peter, MN
Price Tower Arts Center, Inc. Bartlesville, OK
Palmer Museum of Art, University Park, PA
St. John’s Museum of Art, Wilmington, NC
Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, OH
Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon, MI
Mitchell Art Gallery, Annapolis, MD
2003 “Lillian Orlowsky” Beauregard Fine Art, Rumson, NJ (solo)
“Summer Salon” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA
“From the Collection: Hans Hofmann Students” Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, MA, 2004
“Dialogue with Hofmann: 1930s, ‘40s, & ‘50s” Cherrystone Gallery, Wellfleet, MA (solo)
“A Community of Artists: The Collection of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum” Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA, 2005
“From the Collection: Provincetown Painters” Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, MA
“Summer Salon” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA
“Tell Me What You See” (Elementary School Students selections from the P.A.A.M. permanent collection) Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA, 2006
“Provincetown Painters” Beauregard Fine Art, Rumson NJ
“Drawings from Hans Hofmann’s Figure Drawing Class (1937-1955)”

Public Collections:
Archives of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC
Baltimore Museum, Baltimore, MD
Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, MA
Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA
Jerusalem Museum, Jerusalem, Israel
Judah L. Magney Museum, Jewish Museum of the West, Berkeley, CA
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA
Rose Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

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