Known throughout his career for exploring new materials and techniques in painting, Jules Olitski’s prolific and wide-ranging experiments in medium became his signature. In the early 1970s he moved from the spray paintings, for which he had become famous, and began to explore subtle yet forceful new color palettes in his painting. Heavy impasto and strong brushwork marked a new development in these works. The subject of his most recent show at Paul Kasmin Gallery, Olitski’s mitt paintings of the late 1980s – early ‘90s show the progression of this new emphasis on surface. By combining gels with interference pigments in water-based acrylic paint sent to him by Golden Artists Colors, he created dynamic compositions using household painter’s mitts. Much like the brooms, squeegees, and spray guns previously used by Olitski, the mitts quickly became an important tool, and one that proved to be a harbinger of further curiosity and experimentation.
Olitski was born in Snovsk, Russia, in 1922. He was a painter and sculptor, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a National Academician, a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters, and held Honorary Doctorate Of Arts degrees from Hartford Arts School, Keene State College and Southern New Hampshire University. His work is represented in many major permanent and public collections, including The Art Gallery of Ontario; The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; The Chicago Art Institute, Chicago IL; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; The Cleavland Museum of Art, Cleavland, OH; The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY; The Israel Museum, Jeruselum; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. In 2015, his work was included in MOCA Jacksonville's WHITE and is currently on view in Bold Abstractions: Selections from the DMA Collection 1966 - 1976 at the Dallas Museum of Art.