Jules Olitski compares painting to sex

In an old interview, proto-Color-Field painter Jules Olitski (Russian American, 1922-2007) suggests that looking for meaning in abstract art is beside the point. “Someone looks at an abstract painting and they wonder what it means…well forgive me, but what does anything mean? You go to bed with someone and make love, do you pause in the middle and say what does it mean?”

 Jules Olitski, Patutsky in Paradise, 1966, acrylic on canvas,
collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario, purchase.

Check out this video, which includes the interview mentioned above and rare images of Olitski working in the studio. His paintings are on view at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston through May 6. I’m looking forward to seeing the show when it comes to American University Museum at the
Katzen Arts Center, in DC later this year.

Revelation: Major Paintings by Jules Olitski, curated by E.A. Carmean Jr.,
Alison de Lima Greene, and Karen Wilkin. Museum of fine Arts Houston, Houston, Texas. Through May 6, 2012. Organized by Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri, where it premiered in 2011.

“The  exhibition draws together more than 30 significant works from
public and private collections and highlights important periods and
themes from Olitski’s career. With works from his early Stain Paintings
of the 1960s to his Late Paintings, this is the first exhibition of the
artist�s paintings since his death in 2007. Russian-born artist Jules
Olitski (1922�2007) first received international acclaim as a Color
Field painter and continued to experiment throughout his career.”

Traveling to the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio; and American University Museum, at the
Katzen Arts Center, Washington, D.C.; in 2012.

Related posts:
Olitski’s small stakes


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  1. Saw this show several times while it was on view in Kansas City. The work definitely warrants repeat viewings and displays an enormous breadth of experimentation and reworking of the boundaries of abstraction. Although some of the work is very dated and situates itslef in a particular point in time, it is still forces one to reconsider the vast shapeshifting nature of abstraction. An all together amazing show!

  2. Thanks for this great video and review, Sharon. Too bad the show isn't coming to Atlanta.

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